FEBRUARY 14, 1941
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I always get a thrill when I stand at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial and watch the flags waving and see the flowers being placed on his shrine on February 12th. So many terrible things were said of him while he was alive; if by chance, he was the person that those who said them, described. On the other hand, there were people, many of them, all over this country, who did not wait for his death to give him their love and devotion. And when his death occurred, they felt they had lost a personal friend.
One cannot live in the White House without feeling the influence of the Lincoln tradition, because so many rooms are marked with his name. Aside from that, time has allowed us to get away from the bitterness of his day and to evaluate his services to mankind. His passion for justice and freedom for all, his great kindliness, which made him at times put mercy above justice; seem to be driven home as you look at his portraits and live in this house. He was never petty. There is no record that he ever made people suffer for things said of him. His patience seems to have been phenomenal, and his sense of humor allowed him to rebuke with an amusing story what some people might have called treason.
May we plain people learn from him to practice the virtues that make life better for us all in the long run.
Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Luxembourg, and some of her party, went with me to Mt. Vernon yesterday afternoon. Mr. Charles C. Wall, the resident superintendent at Mt. Vernon, took us to the tomb and house where Mrs. Horace M. Towner, regent of the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Association, met us and accompanied us through the house. Her Royal Highness was very appreciative of the beautiful situation and this country place built in Colonial days.
I never cease to marvel at the ability with which women of that period must have run their numerous businesses in order to provide their very large families, which included all their dependents, with shelter, food and clothing, and recreation. Education, judged by the size of the school house, did not require much space in those days.
After the dinner given here last night, Mr. Sigmund Spaeth, known on the air as "The Tune Detective," entertained us all for a half an hour or more with "Music For Fun." I was delighted to see many of the busy tired men around us relax and laugh. I think it meant more to the Americans perhaps than to our foreign guests, but even they seemed to be entertained and amused.
This morning, my press conference ladies met the Grand Duchess and then we held a short conference. Today our guests are busy, but I think on the whole they are not being put through as close a schedule as usual, so I hope they may have more time to enjoy themselves.