JUNE 11, 1940
WASHINGTON, Monday—It was warm when I reached Washington last night and I found everyone here in the same tense mood they had been in when I left. When one is receiving dispatches from abroad every little while, it is almost impossible to feel that any of the normal occupations of life have any reality. The only reality is dead and dying human beings—men without proper equipment, who meet mechanized armies which mow them down and, behind them, streams of women and children inadequately fed, clothed and housed.
The rest of us throughout the country may be able to forget this for a time, but here in the White House there is never a minute when we can ignore it. I do not wonder that every effort is bent toward one objective, to have the mechanized materials for war ourselves in the hope of keeping us at peace. At least, if we ever have to go to war, we should be sure that our soldiers have as much protection as it is possible to give them under modern conditions.
Someday, perhaps, we shall be able to think again about friendly relations with European nations, but, for the time being, it seems to me we shall have to devote ourselves entirely to knowing our own country better and developing our relations with nations on this continent. I am very much interested, therefore, in the arrangements which have been made by the "Open Road," an organization which arranged many trips for college students, teachers and members of professions to European countries. It is now arranging trips in this country, with the special object of having people really know the lives and problems of other people throughout the nation.
This summer, five universities and colleges are developing plans with the cooperation of the "Open Road" organization. Under the auspices of the Graduate School of Harvard University, one group will study social and economic factors which influence education in urban and rural New England. A representative county in the South will furnish five intensive weeks of study, under the auspices of Teachers' College, Columbia University. The School of Education, New York University, will conduct a seminar in the Tennessee Valley, while life problems of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain area will be studied under the Colorado State College of Education. A group of Antioch College students will spend three weeks in a New England textile town and three weeks in an Alabama textile town, investigating life in a textile manufacturing community.
This seems to me a very valuable offering in education. The "Open Road" is an institution which I think deserves support from us all.