JULY 9, 1938
HYDE PARK, Friday—After dinner last night I got out the old and much-used volume of the Home Book of Verse and at random idly read poems aloud. It is curious how often we know lines without remembering where they come from and who the author is. I wonder if in many of the modern things which we read today, poetry published casually in magazines and newspapers, just as these old poems were, there will be lines which live because of the thought or because of some cadence in the words which fixes them permanently in our minds.
I suppose that is why people in political or business campaigns so often lay emphasis on the finding of a slogan—some sentence which is easily repeated over and over again and which they hope will eventually fix itself in the minds of the masses of the people. It will probably come to mean a thousand things which the inventor of the original phrase never even had in mind. Words have a power all their own and I think we too rarely think of them in this light.
Last night I read a speech made recently by the Secretary of the Treasury when he received an honorary degree at Temple University. In his last sentence he addressed the undergraduates in particular, and I wish that sentence could go far and wide throughout our nation. He said:
"It will be written in history that my generation (our older generation) openly faced the problem of underconsumption on the one hand and the waste of unused productive sources on the other; that my generation began to cut a way through the puzzling maze that separates the American people from the enjoyment of economic security —- the post-war generation has sometimes been called the lost generation. Your generation, I hope, will go down in history as the generation which found itself. The generation which, no longer seduced by the glittering prizes that blind chance awards to the few, turned itself into a concerted pursuit of the welfare of the country as a whole, and thereby saved America by its courage and resourcefulness, and the world by its example."
Henry Morgenthau, Jr., evidently feels as I do that success in the future may be personal, may mean great wealth for an individual or a great power, but that, if it does not carry with it the determination that others shall rise as well and if it does not emphasize as a primary effort the cooperative good of the whole rather than the personal good, it will be considered of little value and not rated as a success.
This morning we explored a new road which I have seen in the making for a long time. It is a beautiful strip of concrete and will, when finished I imagine, mean that there will be two parallel roads for people to travel on between New York City and Albany, New York. At present, the road stops quite suddenly back of Rhinebeck, New York, and you take a little winding country road until you find yourself again on the Albany Post Road. I hope we never have so many good roads that there are none of these little winding, woodsy lanes left, for they have far more charm than all the concrete strips in the world.