JUNE 2, 1948
NEW YORK, Tuesday—The toll of deaths on our highways during the Memorial Day weekend seems to have been even higher than had been expected. However, the greatest and most horrible disaster was caused by the floods in the Northwest, particularly in Vanport, outside of Portland, Oregon, where there seems to be no estimate as yet as to the loss of life. It is almost incredible that there was no warning of this disaster. And our deep sympathy goes to the people of that area.
These tragedies which happen without warning remind us that we human beings are not always in control of our destinies. And perhaps that is the great lesson we should remember on Memorial Day. War may be promoted or avoided by the acts of men, and it is up to us to see that, as far as we are able, we prevent the loss of human life.
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On Memorial Day in Hyde Park, a plaque to my husband's memory was unveiled in St. James' Church. Since he was warden of the church for so many years, the vestry suggested that the memorial be put up promptly. My young niece and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Elliott of Birmingham, Michigan, designed the plaque, and were in Hyde Park for the ceremonies.
Both at the church service and at the Roosevelt Home Club memorial service, which was held on the lawn at the old house in the afternoon, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas spoke.
He spoke of the meaning of the church in my husband's life, saying: "Here in communion with God he kept bright his faith in the goodness of man, his faith in the ability of the people of all creeds and races to rise to greatness in the hour of need and to exemplify on earth the brotherhood of man."
This is true, I am sure, of any man who has attended services in the same church all the years of his youth. The habit of turning to a higher strength than his own is a good habit in times of stress and strain.
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Another paragraph of the Justice's speech stands out for me. "His leadership was great, not only in words but in action. He understood that faith is built not by words but by works. He won the faith of the world for the United States and for himself, not by anything he said to other nations, but by the things he did right here at home."
All of us should remember that and take those words to heart, for each one of us, in our small way, is building here at home the faith of other nations in the United States. Every time we deny democracy, every time we seek our own individual profit and not the good of the people as a whole, we have failed in the individual leadership which our country must count on if it is to be a land of strength and unity leading the world in the paths of democracy and peace.