Lift Army ban, Knox demands (9-23-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 23, 1941)

’Repeal Neutrality Act’ –

Let them fight anywhere, he says at launching

Quincy, Mass., Sept. 23 (UP) –
Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox today advocated repeal of the neutrality law and use of the Army wherever needed. He spoke at the launching of the $75-million battleship Massachusetts.

Mr. Knox told 75,000 persons gathered to watch the launching at the Bethlehem Steel Co.'s shipyard:

It is time we were through playing with the neutrality law. It is no longer an asset, but rather a liability.

Mr. Knox asserted that the Army:

…must be used when and where it’s needed.

He assailed the theory that the Army begins functioning:

…only when a man puts his foot on our soil.

Ready for launching seven months ahead of schedule, the Massachusetts – fourth of six new super battleships to bolster the two-ocean Navy – slid down the ways after a brief christening ceremony.

The keel of the 10,000-ton light cruiser Flint was laid on the same ways one minute and 23 seconds after they were vacated by the Massachusetts.

Cheers swelled from the crowd, which included Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations; Gov. Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, and other high-ranking Navy and state officials, as a bottle of champagne was smashed against the prow of the 35,000-ton battlewagon.

The sponsor, Mrs. Charles Francis Adams, wife of a former Secretary of the Navy, said:

I christen thee Massachusetts.

Advocating support of President Roosevelt, Secretary Knox said the time for partisanship “has gone by.”

We are at the water’s edge of a grave situation.

Let us free the hands of our commander-in-chief. Let us give him every opportunity to give aid to Britain.

Mr. Knox described the Massachusetts and her five sister ships, launched or building, as:

…able to meet any enemy under any condition.

Referring to the Russian-German war, Mr. Knox said there:

…are more men engaged and more casualties than at any time in history… The prospect for victory against totalitarian dictatorship is in a grievous position.