JANUARY 1, 1960
NEW YORK —I see a communication from a reader in one of our metropolitan newspapers which complains of the hypocrisy of calling the trees which are lit along Park Avenue at this Christmas season a "memorial" to the men and women who died in World War II and in Korea. The gentleman says if the people who live along Park Avenue want to beautify the street that is wonderful and they should just say so, but not to cloak their desire under the word "memorial".
The reaction of people to certain things always strikes me as very interesting. I look forward every year to seeing these trees and enjoy looking up and down Park Avenue every time I have a chance to do so during this season of the year. But I admit that I did not give enough thought as to whether this was done as a memorial or purely for the purpose of beautifying the avenue at this time. I always enjoy the decorations because I feel the cost is money well spent to lift people's spirits.
Even if one could not have beauty at home one could go out and look at it somewhere else, and that seems to me worthwhile. Many of the paintings that have given the most pleasure to people are going to be forever in some museum or other, and by being there they will give more pleasure to more people.
The trees on Park Avenue will, I am sure, give many people a great deal of pleasure and will perhaps be their only glimpse of real Christmas beauty.
If the Park Avenue Association says it did this in memory of the men and women who died in World War II and in Korea, it does not take away from the beauty. It enhances it because it reminds us how much we have to be thankful for and reminds us of what was preserved for us and for the children of the future by the sacrifices of these men and women.
That brings me to the realization that as I write this column today is New Year's Eve and tomorrow will be January 1, 1960—a day to wipe out of our memories all that was bad in the past year. In the new year we must strive to keep alive that which was good and which will be helpful.
The overriding wish of all mankind is for peace, not only in this coming year but for all the years to come, and we may be glad today that peace looks a little more possible.
Actually, in this coming year we may take some real steps to advance at least the military aspects of peace. If the Soviets are convinced that they can win a communist world without war, I think we may find them agreeing to inspection and coming very much nearer to meeting us at least halfway.
This does not mean, of course, that we will have won the total disarmament which we someday hope to achieve. Every step is a step forward, however, and we can rejoice and make up our minds that in this new year we will work to set our own personal and national house in order.
Then we may be better able to work for international results, which alone can guarantee us the opportunity for a peaceful world.