SEPTEMBER 1, 1941
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Yesterday was a very busy day. I had a picnic and guests at lunch and again at supper. The noon picnic was very small and included the children who are here; Diana Hopkins, Elliott Jr., and Chandler. The evening one had a much larger group.
In the afternoon we had the annual Roosevelt Home Club Celebration on Mr. Moses Smith's lawn. After our newspaper contingent had returned from Poughkeepsie and filed their stories, they came back, and together with our office force, we ate all our picnic supper at my cottage. This has become an annual affair on Labor Day weekend, and is almost the only time I have a chance to greet all those who work so hard during their journeys up here with the President.
Tomorrow is Labor Day, which I always think one of the most significant holidays we have. It shows how much we think of the dignity of labor when we mark it by a national holiday. There is no one who believes more strongly than I do that play and rest are important in life, but above and beyond everything else, work must be to us all the phase of our lives for which we are most grateful. To have a job, to do it as well as you are able, is perhaps the main satisfaction in life for most people.
I wonder how many people know that the statue of the "Minute Man," which is used on our defense bonds posters, was done by the sculptor, Mr. Daniel Chester French, who did the great marble Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Perhaps it would interest you to know a little about the making of this statue, since the story is told to me by the sculptor's daughter, Mrs. William Penn Cresson. She writes:
"The young sculptor borrowed from the art museum a large plaster cast of the 'Apollo Belvedere,' which he set up on one side of his studio, and on the other side he placed a long full-length mirror, in which he surveyed his own not unattractive form. And there he made his 'Minute Man.'"
The dedication of the statue on the 19th of April, 1875, was a very great occasion in the little town of Concord, Mass. It was one of those bitterly cold days that we have so often in the New England spring. More people were said to have died from the effects of that cold, than had died on the day of the battle they were celebrating.
President Grant and all his Cabinet came from Washington for the unveiling. Longfellow and Lowell marched in the procession. George William Curtis was the orator of the day, and orated for more than two hours in the cold. Emerson read his poem written for the occasion, the lines of which were cut on the pedestal of the statue.