First Published: 1905, Wayland's Monthly
Source: DEBS: His Life Writings and Speeches 1908 by The Appeal to Reason newspaper, Girard, Kansas. Pages 245-246;
Online Version: E.V. Debs Internet Archive, 2008
Transcribed/HTML Markup: David Walters, August, 2008
Public Domain: The E. V. Debs Internet Archive follows the advice of the original copyright (now expired and in the public domain) published in th title page of the 1908 edition: “Copyright by The Appeal to Reason: “NOTE—Copyright protection is taken upon this volume for the sole purpose of protecting the work of Comrade Debs from prejudiced misues by pirate Capitalist publishers, and will not be invoked against Socialist and Labor Publications and Comrade publishers, they giving us notice.—Appeal to Reason”
What sweet emotions the recollections of childhood inspire, and how priceless its treasured memories in our advancing and declining years!
Laughing eyes and curly hair, little brown bands and bare feet, innocent and care-free, trusting and loving, tender and pure, what an elevating and satisfying influence these little gods have upon our maturer years!
Childhood! What a holy theme! Flowers they are, with souls in them, and if on this earth man has a sacred charge, a holy obligation, it is to these tender buds and blossoms of humanity.
Yet bow many of them are prematurely plucked, fade and die and are trampled in the mire. Many millions of them have been snatched from the cradle and stolen from their play to be fed to the forces that turn a workingman's blood into a capitalist's gold, and many millions of others have been crushed and perverted into filth for the slums and food for the potter's field.
Childhood is at the parting of the ways which lead to success or failure, honor or disgrace, life or death. Society is, or ought to be, profoundly concerned in the nature of the environment that is to mold the character and determine the career of its children, and any remissness in such duty is rebuked by the most painful of penalties, and these are inflicted with increasing severity upon the people of the United States.
Childhood is the most precious charge of the family and the community, but our capitalist civilization sacrifices it ruthlessly to gratify its brutal lust for pelf and power, and the march of its conquest is stained with the blood of infants and paved with the puny bones of children.
What shall the harvest be?
The millions of children crushed and slain in the conquest of capitalism have not died in vain. From their little martyr graves all over this fair land their avenging images are springing up, as it were, against the system that murdered them and pronouncing upon it, in the name of God and humanity, the condemnation of death.