APRIL 21, 1941
WASHINGTON, Sunday—When I was in Buffalo, N. Y., I saw the NYA training shop and it looked like an extremely efficient, well laid out plant. I am sure the boys are learning skills which will help them to get jobs in the new factories which are now opening. I was happy in going through the airplane factories to notice that older workers everywhere were willing and anxious to let the younger ones learn from them.
I could not help thinking of the tremendous weight of responsibility which each of these workers carries for the lives of the young pilots who will later fly these planes. A bit of work carelessly done may mean death to a pilot in some crucial moment in the future.
Friday, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., I had little time except to hold a press conference and to give my lecture. After it, I attended a supper of the Mr. E. Walter Samuel Sunday School Class of the First Methodist Church, which sponsored the lecture. In Wilkes-Barre their problem of unemployment is still paramount, because there are no defense industries to take up the slack and solve the unemployment in the coal fields.
Saturday, in New York City, I did a number of errands and saw some of my family. In the evening I went to see Lillian Hellman's play "Watch On The Rhine." It is stirring and in parts, harrowing. All the way through I was thinking of how the family symbolized our country as a whole, so unaware do we seem to the dangers and horrors all around us. I feel sure, however, that like Fanny in the play, we shall not be made of paste if our test comes.
I hear that on April 23rd, on the college campuses in this country, there will be called a new kind of peace strike by certain groups who seem aware of the realities of today. If the program which has been sent me by the Brooklyn College Student Council is really to be part of the thinking of all these young people on this day, it will be a valuable day to many of them.
None of us know how circumstances may change from day to day, nor what we must meet as time goes on, but the notice sent to me of "design for living, a democratic world at peace, triple A for peace and democracy" has much food for thought, and shows a willingness to discuss and face the situation as it is today for us and the world.
The following is what these young people favor:
- 1. All materials to nations resisting aggression; Great Britain, China, Greece. No AEF beyond the Western Hemisphere.
- 2. Adequate national defense, military and social. Expanded national defense in addition to, but not at the expense of, the social services— NYA, housing, etc.
- 3. Academic freedom, civil liberties. The rights of labor must be maintained and any abridgment thereof, opposed.