MAY 18, 1940
WASHINGTON, Friday—I went to Congress yesterday to listen to the President deliver his speech on the necessity for the appropriation for national defense and a great armament program. Needless to say, I recognize and accept this necessity, but I agree with Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the United States, who, in speaking before the American Scientific Congress, said we must consider the health program as part of our national defense because, without it, we can not have a people with "toughness of moral and physical fibre."
We must not use this program for national defense as an excuse to enable us to ignore the equally vital national defense of having people devoted to democracy and feeling that democracy meets their need. The one-third of the nation, ill-fed, ill-housed and ill-clothed, is the most fertile ground for the seeds of dissension strewn so ably today by some of the world's enemies.
From Congress I went directly to a luncheon meeting of the various people in outside agencies and in the different departments of the Government, interested in matters pertaining to youth. This group has grown greatly since I first met with them and they are doing a valuable work integrating the interests of young people with the interests of the nation.
Someone asked me how it was possible to appropriate all this money for national defense when Congress had been so reluctant to appropriate money for a greater housing program, or for more old age pensions, or for relief of various kinds. The answer is obvious that people will tax themselves for something which is dramatic enough really to frighten them. We have never been able to make enough people realize that it is equally important to build up a nation of healthy, strong, well-fed people who are decently sheltered, clothed and educated. Those who can not have the decencies of life may be as serious a menace as a foreign invasion. Perhaps this is going to come home to us now and we are going to realize that our national defense program must develop along both these points.
A book has just come to my desk called: "Your Career In Business," by Walter Hoving. I hope that many young people will read it. It does not, of course, answer all the problems of youth. It does not answer the great problem of getting jobs when jobs do not exist, but it does help in the approach to an existing job and in the preparation needed for personal success.
I received the ladies of the American Law Institute yesterday afternoon, and then had a group of visitors at 5:00 o'clock. I ended the day with a meeting in southeast Washington on the District of Columbia relief problem. The sun is shining today after our heavy rain of yesterday and we are hoping to have a lunch in the garden for all of our office force.
(COPYRIGHT, 1940, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 18, 1940
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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