JULY 20, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—Many of us have had an interest in Greece that we acquired in our early student years. It has nothing to do with approval or disapproval of our present policy in that country. It is simply the acknowledgement on our part of the great heritage that Greece has handed down to so many nations since her great years in art and literature and government.
Today, as Americans, we have a special tie with Greece, but this government tie as expressed through our mission to Greece has little connection with the intellectual interests that have been built up by private individuals in education, for instance.
The best example of this tie between the United States and Greece in the educational field is Athens College, a member of the Near East College Association. It was founded in 1925 by Greeks and Americans to bring American ideas into Greek education. It provides 367 scholarships. The boys now studying on scholarships are mostly war victims. Seventy-seven of them are war orphans, and their food, clothing and medical care must be provided by the college. The food consists of only one hot meal a day. Still, that one hot meal makes all the difference between a child who can live and study and a child slowly starving to death.
The college provides 10 years of education, which includes the junior college years, and it enjoys the full confidence of the Greeks themselves, who still provide for 30 percent of the scholarship students in spite of the precarious condition of their finances.
Athens College has twice as many students now as it had before the war, and yet the school building is in need of almost complete rehabilitation. It is one of those cases where a small sum of money accomplishes a great deal. For instance, tuition costs for one year for one student are only $225. Fifty dollars will purchase books, paper and pencils for two years and $25 will supply one student with a hot lunch for a month. Five dollars and forty cents will pay tuition and board for one day for a scholarship student.
Many of us feel that we pay heavy taxes today, but we pay them gladly because many things which used to be done on a charitable basis have now become rights and people expect to receive them through some kind of government agency. As everyone pays taxes, no one feels that these benefits are charity. They are the proper function of government run in democratic fashion and supported in democratic fashion.
Unfortunately, this cannot be true of all the countries of the world. Therefore, there are many cases in which a charitable enterprise, which has been carried by individual contributions in the past, will now receive less private support. Education in many of the countries where war and occupation have taken their toll among the people is going to require money for rehabilitation. These funds, in large part, probably will have to come out of the charity of the people in the United States and in other countries where war has not taken a heavy toll in material resources.
This story of Athens College can be repeated in practically every country in the war areas, and if we believe that it is important to have educated men and women to face the future we will have to respond to these appeals.