Hon. John Knox. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow delegates, we are ready today upon what may be, if we so will, a great occasion. We have come from the East, the West, the South, and the North. We are here for one purpose and for one purpose only, and that is to preserve the heritage that is ours and to see that our fellow citizens may live their lives in peace and safety.
Most of us, I suppose, know something of politics. We have seen life as it is lived, and some of us have sought, and perhaps found, the object of our personal desires. But if this be true, there is one obligation that rests upon each and every one of us, be he a Republican or a Democrat, and that is that each of us should do all that he can do to see that our property is preserved and that human beings be freed from the hazards that can and must be avoided.
The danger that is most threatening to America today is not Communism; it is not Russia; it is not the ascendancy of either the Democratic or the Republican parties; the terror of our lives is the danger of fire. When that cry rings out in the day or in the night, we have no thought of politics. The idea of partisan advantage is something that never enters our minds. We are part and parcel of the common weal. Our only consideration is that each of us may do what he can to minimize loss and to see that humanity is saved from the fire, suffering, and death to which it is now subjected.
In doing this in recent years we have been far from successful. Due to inertia and carelessness we have borne witness to the holocausts of Coconut Grove, the Winecoff, and the Hotel LaSalle. Sobered by this experience, we are here today at the invitation of the President of the United States to see if we cannot evolve a program whereby America, Democrats and Republicans alike, whites and blacks, Jews and Gentiles, can save themselves from the ravages of fire and smoke by which we are constantly menaced.