NOVEMBER 9, 1948
PARIS, Monday—I attended a party Friday given by one of the local Catholic groups which is trying to form an organization among the old people called the Association of Smiling People, or words to that effect. An afternoon of entertainment was arranged to start them off with a bang, and they asked me to make a speech—just to show that Americans feel the importance of older people and counted their happiness as one of their major concerns.
I could not help but smile inwardly at the thought of all our oldsters and wondered if they would require any assurance that people in the United States considered them of importance. Older people here are having a particularly difficult time.
Those who had savings put aside for their old age face devaluation of the franc, plus very high prices. And though the government steadily is growing stronger, Communists are struggling to get back into powerful positions and lose no opportunity to influence any group which has any legitimate reason for being discontented.
I hope that those interested in old people will not stop at the point of forming an association for their entertainment, but will proceed to find some kind of part-time work which they can carry on according to their individual abilities, and thereby supplement their meager living allowances.
It's not only the very poor who are suffering here, but many of the older professional and middle-class groups, who because of postwar conditions, have found themselves obliged to look to some kind of public assistance to help them live in decency.
For artists, fortunately, there are a few homes where they are completely cared for, but there are always many more people knocking at the door than possibly can be cared for, or even accepted.
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With all this on my schedule, I had to put my nose to the grindstone and finish a speech on relations between the United States and France I had to deliver at the conference of ambassadors Saturday evening. I expected Sumner Welles to precede me, but at the last minute, he put it off.
I feel that he would have represented the United States far better than I in this series in which the speakers usually are well-known men of politics and letters. However, I did my best and hope that I did not let down the level of representation ordinarily expected.
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Article Thirteen of the Declaration of Human Rights now lies behind us. It finally came out with little change except that we added an opening sentence which read: "Everyone has the right to nationality."
This was not all the French delegates would like to see in the article, but it did state that this was the inherent right of every human being and which, therefore, by implication, would make it necessary for us to see that in one way or another it is granted him.
The Soviet Union made a very strong plea not to include the words, "or denied the right to change his nationality."