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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches

Address on behalf of the March of Dimes

Civilian Defense Series 48-72 (30)

January 19, 1942


Speech, Address on behalf of the March of Dimes (National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis)

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[Unknown speaker:]

We hear first from Mrs. Roosevelt.


Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am always happy to take part in the Fight Infantile Paralysis campaign, which is a cause which has the warmhearted support of men and women everywhere. But this year I feel a special satisfaction about it. We Americans are engaged in a great struggle for the preservation of our country. The energy, the money, the time, and the prayers of the united people stand behind the effort to preserve our country. But gigantic as that task is, requiring the sacrifice and the devotion of all Americans, we are not forgetting the essentials of public health, education, medical progress. These are the things that help make up the America we are fighting to preserve. If we were to neglect our struggle against epidemic disease even for a brief period, we would not be keeping America safe for the future. That is why it is so heartening to learn how every worthy force in our nation is uniting in the war against infantile paralysis. Labor, industry, the press, the churches, and many other categories in American life have aligned themselves actively in this thoroughly fine effort. And I have just learned of a tremendous program to be instituted on January twenty-second by the motion picture theatres throughout the land. We are here today to launch Women's Week for Infantile Paralysis. From now until January twenty-sixth there will be a concentration of all women's activities to raise money for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. The work of women in nonmilitary endeavors is particularly important this year with so much manpower gone into active service. And women will prove themselves equal to the responsibility of human defense work. It is not too much to hope that every woman in the country will give either time or money this week to the infantile paralysis drive. And now I would like to call on the man who is in charge of this kind of human defense work for the nation-Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service.

[Dr. Thomas Parran:]

Mrs. Roosevelt has expressed a thought uppermost in the minds of all who care about the human resources of America. In time of war, the war against disease must be prosecuted more vigorously. To improve the health of the people is always important; it is imperative now. We must hold the lines against preventable disease and also drive hard against those other conditions which cripple and destroy. We shall overcome the enemy from without, more swiftly if we unite to conquer the diseases which are our enemy within. To help in this, it is a first responsibility of all citizens wishing to contribute something solid to the war effort. An epidemic in peacetime is a serious thing; an epidemic in wartime could be a national calamity. That is why every agency of government, every private philanthropy, every individual doctor, nurse, and parent must be especially vigilant now. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, with which I have had the honor to be connected since its formation, is one of the agencies that is meeting this wartime challenge. Its work will go on, intensified, just so long as the people of this country help with their contributions. I wish the workers for Women's Week, and all the workers in the 1942 Fight Infantile Paralysis campaign, much success in this important phase of public health work.


Thank you, Dr. Parran.


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About this document

Address on behalf of the March of Dimes
Civilian Defense Series 48-72 (30)

January 19, 1942


Civilian Defense Series 48-72 (30)

Eleanor Roosevelt

Project Editors
  • National Endowment for the Humanities

Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Transcript Editors
  • : Lewis, Britanny
  • : Brudos, Meg
  • : Wood, Caroline
  • : Alhambra, Christopher   [ ORCID: 0000-0002-6299-793X | VIAF ]

Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27

Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library