DECEMBER 30, 1940
NEW YORK, Sunday—I don't know whether any of you are reading about Ernie Pyle's trip to England with as much interest as I am, but I have read everything since he left, and on Friday one paragraph stuck in my mind. Speaking of what an English friend told him about the English people, Ernie Pyle remarks:
"He says the war has done a lot for the English character. He says it has drawn people together, made them prouder of each other, made them humbler within themselves, and hence, both mellower and stronger."
That combination of humility and pride is a great achievement. Humility as regards oneself and pride in other human beings who make up your people—what a great leveller of articifical distinctions!
Friday was a rather quiet day at the White House and I had an opportunity to pay a call on one of my godchildren, Ruth Eleanor Armstrong. She and her twin brother are very attractive youngsters, and they certainly were having a grand time with their Christmas toys.
Saturday found me in New York City doing a number of errands before going out to spend a little while at the joint conference held by the International Students Service and the National Student Federation at the New Jersey State College for Women.
I find myself at present in a most unique position. A certain number of papers including the Ku Klux Klan paper of Atlanta, Georgia, accuse me of supporting the Communists because I have made some contributions to a very excellent labor school in Tennessee and I have also subscribed to the Oklahoma branch of the Civil Liberties Union.
On the other hand, some of the Communist papers are accusing me of trying to use certain youth organizations for dark purposes which are closely tied with Fascist work camps. I have never tried to use any organization, and where youth organizations are concerned, I have always felt that older people have an obligation to help them when their own beliefs allowed them to do so.
I have never heard a government official advocate a compulsory work camp of any kind. I still think a great many girls as well boys would not only profit by a year of service for their country, but would glady give this time at some fixed age. This is my own personal opinion, however, and I may be overestimating the desire of the boys and girls of this country to train themselves as well as to serve their nation.
In any case, what I happen to believe has nothing whatsoever to do with what people who are actually responsible government officials believe or do. I can only wish that I actually had half the influence which the two extremes seem to attribute to me. I'd be glad to use it to achieve the preservation and improvement of democracy as it now exists in our land.
Today was filled by appointments with various members of my family and friends. Tomorrow morning I shall start back to Washington, taking with me the young daughter of an old friend, the late Mr. Thomas M. Lynch. She will be our guest for a few days.