This is excerpted from a speech given by President Eisenhower in April 1953 after the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Officially it's known as The Chance for Peace. The excerpt below is the part that is best known and the popular title harkens back to William Jennings Bryan's "Humanity hanging from a Cross of Gold" speech from the turn of the last century.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies,
in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are
cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms in not spending money
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its
scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy
bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two
electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some 50 miles of concrete
We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have
housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life
to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of
life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is
humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
Ike was probably the only president, certainly the last president who truly understood the real costs of war. The dead, injured, maimed, shell shocked soldiers and civilians are the most obvious costs. Ike highlighted the additional costs in what we could have had if we had chosen to follow another path.
(Ok he probably had help, most presidents do when it's time to write the speeches. But his name is on it. He gave it. And God help any Republican who tries to do the same now. Sixty years. SIXTY YEARS! And we haven't learned a damned thing.