JANUARY 1, 1952
EN ROUTE TO PARIS, Tuesday—Today another year will begin—1952.
On New Year's Eve it's customary to look back over the past year. We have much to be proud of. We decided to stand by our decision in Korea against the aggressor, and with our Allies I think we probably saved the world from a third world war, though we paid heavily in men and materiel.
We have been generous to our enemies in Italy, Germany and Japan. There is a story told of two men who belonged to a nation that was almost financially bankrupt and one was overheard to say to the other, "Let's attack America and land on her shores. We will be overwhelmed, she will occupy us, put our country back on its feet and then leave us alone." When such jokes are told about a nation, that nation has made an enviable record for herself.
The world, as a whole, is reaping benefits from actions carried through by the United States, either through the United Nations or on its own. We have not always been wise in our dealing outside our own country and we may have been wasteful in our way of doing things just as we are wasteful at home. Nevertheless, we can be proud of our record abroad.
Turning to our own country, I think most of us feel a sense of shame. Over the past years we have made great progress in dealing with our minority question and yet in this past year we have had the Cicero riot, the shooting of two Negro captives by a sheriff in Florida, and the bombing and death of an NAACP leader in Florida who led the drive to bring the sheriff to trial. One or two unfortunate incidents affecting the Negroes probably could be searched out, as well as our dealings with the American Indian and with some other minorities.
In another field, we have found corruption in public office and a tie between crime, business and government in evildoing. This has been one of the most unfortunate situations that has occurred in our country in a long time. The only explanation I have been able to think of begins with the depression of the '30s when we faced what we knew might be the disintegration of our whole country. We had then a high standard of public and private morality. Many of those who were taking part in government were doing so not for any personal gain, but merely as a matter of service to their country. They made a living in their private business and didn't expect anything more. Following the depression came the war, which called out of all our people the best that they had to give. And when you have been keyed to a very high pitch you are bound to slump a little, and that is what happened to us. Those who could never be dishonest just turned their heads away and didn't notice what the others were doing—some of them out of weakness, many of them out of greed and selfishness. It may be said that to be stupid is almost as bad as to be dishonest, but I think a good many of our people have been stupid and are now horrified at the results of their stupidity and apathy.
For the new year I hope the people of the United States will turn over a new leaf. We will take an interest in our government; we will clean out all those who are undesirable public servants. And in the business world, as well as in other fields of occupation, we will return to high standards for ourselves and for our neighbors.
We must furnish the example of what a democracy can really accomplish. At the moment we fall far short of inviting admiration or being able to expect trust and confidence from those we would be leading.
A Happy New Year to all of you, but may it carry serious reflection for each and every one of us.