All Americans can recognize the feeling displayed by President Reagan when he read the words of a fallen World War I soldier as the climax of his inaugural address. This feeling is more than a distance gratitude for a soldier's wartime service to his country; it is a sense of sharing in the peacetime efforts still required to preserve freedom, justice, and strength.
The responsibility of the individual is an essential theme to be carried forward from the address. It was summed up in the soldier's pledge to himself: "I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, i will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone." But Mr. Reagan stressed it elsewhere, too:
"If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"
"All must share in the productive work of this 'new beginning,' and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy."
He saw the men and women already doing their part in various walks of life as "heroes" who give the lie to the notion that this is a time without heroes. And he saw the future requiring Americans "to believe that together with God's help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us."
Americans have believed this before. They have heard presidents call on their combined individual efforts before. President Reagan has given a valuable new lead. Their task is to respond as if the struggle indeed depended o n them. Can anyone doubt that it does?