JULY 5, 1939
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I want to go back a little today to tell you about the pageant on Roanoke Island, N. C., about its lost colony. We saw the opening performance of the year on Saturday night, and I must say that it made the greatest impression on all of us. Mr. Paul Green, the author, has achieved a remarkable artistic success. A few of the players are professionals from the defunct Federal Theatre Project, the rest of the actors and singers are all local people.
I was interested to find that there were cars from almost every State in the Union, which shows that people are beginning to know that this pageant is worth seeing, not only because of its historical interest, but because of its intrinsic beauty.
History is interesting to me primarily because of the bearing it has upon the present. As we watched the hardships of the "Lost Colony", I kept thinking what it had cost to establish this nation. How lonely that little handful of men, women and children were. How infinitely small our difficulties look in comparison to what they faced in such utter solitude. At least, we have around us many people today with potential power to create the necessities of life. Production is not our difficulty. The things we need are here among us, our whole trouble is how to distribute them so no one shall lack for the necessities of life. When we think of the courage of those who came to live in this "Lost Colony", how can we lose heart when all we really need is unity of spirit and a determination to find a way to share our wealth.
Yesterday I flew from Washington to New York City and spent the afternoon with the American Youth Congress. I went from group to group—New England, New York, the Far West and the South. I listened to them all discuss their proposed constitution and some problems peculiar to their own localities, as well as questions of wider interest. I was impressed by their sincerity, by their adherence to the democratic principles in open discussion. I could think of so many people who could help these young people if they were willing to come forward and offer their services. I say "help" advisedly, because I do not think that any adults should dominate. They should be very careful not to try even to influence, only to use their knowledge and experience to point out better ways of doing things and to widen the vision and interest of the group which of necessity tends, like every other group, to think of its own particular interests.
Manhattan Center, where the Youth Congress met, was packed in the evening, both on the floor and in the galleries. The presentation of the problems of twenty-one million young people was very well done. I think perhaps the radio performance could be made a little snappier for production in meetings where the interest might not be quite as vivid as it was last night. The importance of the evening, however, lay in the spirit you felt around you. Here was the potential future strength of America and, on the whole, I have great confidence in the wisdom, the idealism and the honesty of the group as an entirety.