JUNE 28, 1940
HYDE PARK, Thursday—The weather continues to be the strangest June weather I have ever known. Yesterday began with rain in a downpour, a thunderstorm, then the sun, and suddenly another storm; so I was indoors most of the day with a fire burning on the hearth. This was just as well, for the accumulation of mail was tremendous because we had been away in New York City for two days. Miss Thompson and I worked just as hard as we could every minute.
Strange though it may seem, Wednesday was the first full day that I have been in my cottage since I came up here, except for the two days when the President was here, and those are always busy times at the big house.
Going to New York City, as I have been doing for part of the day very frequently, does break into this quiet country existence, which from a distance one contemplates but so rarely realizes. I think I shall make it a rule after July 1st not to spend more than one day a week in New York City, but the gods alone know whether I shall be able to abide by that rule.
I was given a rather interesting book the other day called: "Cavalcade of the Rails." There is something really very exhilarating in the story of the building of our railroads and of the men who accomplished such gigantic tasks. These men were great personalties and I am glad to have known some of them.
The thing which always interests me in the tale of the various undertakings which have contributed to making us a great nation, is that fact that in almost every case a great many people took tremendous chances of success and failure. They gambled with their possessions and their lives. The spirit of adventure was with them from youth to old age.
Today the challenge before us is very different, but if we could see it from that same spirit of adventure, I think we would make more rapid strides than we have been making.
The years of depression have made us less sure of ourselves, oversuspicious and overcautious perhaps. Take, for example, our attitude toward the acceptance of any foreign political refugees. The first to suffer from oppression abroad were the German-Jewish people, but many other nationalities have followed in their wake.
These people love liberty and value it, and have had experiences which may be of value to us in recognizing the propaganda methods used by totalitarian dictators. We must, of course, use caution, but we need not be cautious to the point of going back entirely on our traditional hospitality to political refugees.
Human life is precious, human intelligence of a fine order is rare enough to make us want to preserve it. I sometimes wonder if we could not safeguard ourselves and at the same time show some of our old time generosity towards human beings who today are in great misery and danger.