FEBRUARY 6, 1939
HYDE PARK, New York, Sunday—Friday night, after attending the Junior League Follies in Washington, I took the midnight train with a friend for New York City and then the early morning train on Saturday to Hyde Park, where we have been enjoying a short stay. I could tell you how beautiful it is, but I have done that several times before, and so I am going to devote this column to adding a little bit to what I said in a former column because I realize that many people do not quite understand the significance of certain occurances.
One of my correspondents writes in substance as follows: "There seems to be a considerable amount of acidity in you when you go out of your way to suggest that these kids be barred from employment for the rest of their lives because of a childish prank. "Of course, I did not suggest that they should be barred from employment for the rest of their lives. I did say that I would think seriously now about employing either of the two youngsters who succeeded in getting into the White House on New Year's Eve. First, because of their lack of consideration of others, second, because of the lack of forethought and judgment they had shown in doing a thing which might have been dangerous to themselves and certainly jeopardized other people.
My reason for stating this as forcefully as I did is twofold. Almost invariably when something of this kind happens and is widely publicized, as this was, it is attempted by other people. If other youngsters, encouraged by what these two happened to pull off successfully, tried something similar many of us might might find ourselves saddened by the results. Let me explain what might have happened in this particular case.
The boy, who has extraordinary effrontery for his age, started up the private back stairs. If a guard had heard and seen him going up these stairs, he would undoubtedly have ordered the boy to stop. Suppose the boy, thinking himself about to achieve his desires, had hurried on instead of obeying the order. It would have been the duty of the officer to fire. He would have tried not to injure him, but he couldn't have been sure. If this same thing were attempted when any President was out in an automobile or on a train, the probability is that some one would be hurt, either the youngsters or the guard. Whichever it was, a number of people would probably be grieved by the results.
I think it is most important for their futures that these two particular youngsters learn now to think before they act, to have some consideration for other people, some reverence for positions in government. Otherwise, when the time does come for them to do their work in the world, they will not do it well. That is why I do not think you should minimize or glorify pranks which affect other people as well as the youngsters themselves. Many of us have done things when we were young which were wrong and it would not have been a kindness on the part of anyone to make us believe that what we did was worthy of repetition. Neither is it safe nor profitable to encourage other young people to follow in these youngsters' footsteps.