JANUARY 18, 1940
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Many of you have probably wondered during the past week, just as I did, what would happen to the wives, mothers and children of the men who were killed in the mine disaster in West Virginia. It is bad enough to lose someone you love, but that is something which all of us experience. However, to face the fact that with the loss goes the food and shelter of the family, is stark tragedy, which, fortunately, all of us do not have to face.
I felt that this emergency did face those families waiting at the mouth of the mine for the bodies of their men to be brought up. Therefore, I was very happy when a representative of the Social Security Board telephoned to tell me that out of the 92 miners who were killed, 73 of them were currently insured under the Federal Old Age and Survivors Insurance system. The widows and children will be eligible to monthly benefits under this system. There is a chance that some of the 19 others may also be insured, though the employers records already in do not show it.
That is a dramatic illustration of what this program means to us, for I know that all of you will sleep more quietly at night knowing that, at least, starvation will not face these families.
When we were living in New York City, after my husband had left the Navy Department, I remember our going to a clubhouse which at the time was run for Navy and Army men in New York City. The Navy League was one of the organizations responsible for the running of this clubhouse, as an evidence of the interest in the Navy personnel. Now I have received a notice stating that the New York branch of the Navy League of the United States is putting on a membership drive. For many years I knew something of their work, I am still interested in their expansion, for I think this country should know and support its navy. Every organization naturally thinks that its own work is important, but in this case I think we are safe in feeling that the Navy does deserve our interest and support. We may differ as to the size of the navy that we need, but that is for experts to decide. We cannot, however, differ as to our interest in the ships and the men who are the backbone of our first line of defense.
Yesterday afternoon we had a very enjoyable musicale here. A young pianist, born in California, Mr. Ezra Rachlin, gave everyone great pleasure by playing a delightful program. Miss Charlotte Kraus, a young Austrian refugee, who sang for us when the Danish Crown Prince and Princess were at Hyde Park, sang again here very charmingly.
Last night I attended a meeting of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Dr. Kingdon and Dr. Graham both spoke and stimulated a discussion which brought out many ideas on the subject of how the work of the churches of the world might help prepare us for lasting peace.