JANUARY 13, 1943
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Yesterday at the White House was a sad day, because of the funeral of young Mrs. Charles Claunch, the wife of the junior usher at the White House.
The world seems so full of sorrow for so many people these days. I think all the people of our country must sympathize with the British Ambassador and Lady Halifax, who have borne so bravely the death of one son, and now have to be so far away from their second son, who is lying critically wounded somewhere in the fighting zone. One can only hope that modern science, which has made some extraordinary advances, may help this boy and many others to regain, if not complete health, at least sufficient well-being so that life may be both useful and pleasant.
I had a press conference yesterday morning, which Mrs. Florence Kerr attended. She told us some of the things which had been done to make the closing of the WPA projects a little easier for men and women who can still work on them, though they are transferred to the direction of other agencies. It is interesting to find that so many things that WPA has started have become of use to the community, so that they can be taken over and continued because they are necessary to the community life or to the war effort.
There is one thing which I am becoming more and more concerned about. In some states, elementary and grade schools are closing. This means that children will be deprived of their basic education, which is absolutely essential, because without it no child can go on educating himself. In the early days of our history, many of our great men did much toward their own education. But they obtained the basic tools, such as the ability to read and write, and the fundamental knowledge of arithmetic, from the itinerant teacher, if it was not available in any regular schools.
I am really fearful that, if we do not do some very drastic reorganization of the salaries and preparation of our teachers, we may find ourselves with a lower basis of actual literacy when the war period is over than we have in the past. It was fairly clearly brought out by the draft that we need more education and not less in this country.
Last night I spoke at the Labor Auditorium for the Emergency Food and Housing Corps. It was a well-attended meeting and some very interesting films were shown.
I took the midnight train for West Virginia with the members of the Arthurdale Advisory Committee. We are having our last meeting down here, because the community is now in large part out of the hands of the government and in the hands of the people themselves.