DECEMBER 16, 1938
WASHINGTON, Thursday—Yesterday afternoon, at the Navy Yard, I saw one of our new destroyers which is named for the late Rear Admiral James M. Helm. Mrs. Helm christened it a year ago last spring and she was on board yesterday to receive us when the officers showed us over the ship.
The living quarters seem so much more convenient than on the boats which I remember in the days when the President was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Even the crew seemed to be, comparatively speaking, comfortable. I asked whether in rough weather these ships behaved any more quietly than the old ones and was told that the motion was still pretty vigorous. These boats are quite evidently arranged for active service, so when Captain Talbot told me he got his exercise climbing up and down the ladders to the bridge, he was probably speaking the truth. There is very little space on board which is not utilized for some kind of necessary work.
I went from the man-of-war to the Madeira School's Christmas carol ceremony, which, you will own, is going from one extreme to the other. At this season of the year, especially, it seems so irreconcilable that we should sing about the birth of a Baby who lived His life to bring greater happiness to man and died a willing sacrifice to prove that the law of love could outlive the law of hate, and yet, through all the centuries, continue to emphasize in our contacts with each other the law of force and hate! We must respect and admire and show our gratitude to those men in our fighting forces who protect us, but they must wish with us that the Christ Child's spirit could rule the world.
The struggling world seemed far away as we sat in a room lighted by candles and heard the Scripture read and the young voices singing Christmas carols. It was a lovely occasion and one to be long remembered.
Since we are thinking of Christmas, I cannot help wondering if many of my friends know of a committee which has worked for 27 years to bring foreign students to the country and to make their time here profitable? At this season, they ask that on Christmas Day those who can do so, to entertain some of these students, or "unofficial ambassadors" in their homes. It is lonely to be far away from your home at Christmas time and so the gesture will be doubly appreciated. I hope it will be possible for many people to have someone with them who might otherwise now know what a real home is like on this day. I am afraid that we cannot, ourselves, entertain any foreign students, but one of my sons called me last night to ask if he might bring a fellow student from a different part of our own country. Though the house is fairly full, I am sure we can find a bed for him somewhere.
I know you will agree with me that the nicest thing in the world is to be remembered by one's friends, and I have been very happy ever since I opened a package this morning containing Admiral Richard E. Byrd's new book: "Alone" with a kind inscription. We remember him as a very young lieutenant in the Navy and he always had the qualities which made the story possible.