MARCH 17, 1943
NEW YORK, Tuesday—The Progressive Schools' Committee for Refugee Children, Inc., is doing a really very appealing piece of work. I was glad yesterday afternoon to be able to speak for them before a small group, but I was even more interested to see the photographs of some of the children who have been in this country for two years or more.
The Committee places these children in farm schools, where they can live close to earth with the animals as companions. This seems to help them to adjust to the new life here after the horrors they have been through. Every nationality in Europe seems to be represented among these children.
Some of them have neither father nor mother here, most of them have one parent, sometimes a mother and sometimes a father. The other parent is frequently left behind in a concentration camp.
One little boy, for months, would speak to no one because he had seen his mother go out of her mind in Paris. Then, with his father, he fled from place to place, finally getting to Casablanca, then to Lisbon, and at last to the United States.
In the school where he was, they very wisely left him alone for a time, until they found out that he was painting. Gradually, he painted out of his mind all the horrors he had been through. Now he is able to talk and laugh with the American children and seems to be a normal child.
The schools have given very generous scholarships, to these children, but it takes about $500 a year for their support. It takes the parents, as a rule, about two years to adjust and begin to earn enough money to take care of the children themselves.
Some of these children will be people who, having learned what democracy means over here, will, after the war, carry the message most effectively back to the countries of their birth.
The show at Madison Square Garden, in New York City, last night was a mixture of speeches and entertainment. Mayor La Guardia conducting the massed bands of the City of New York Police, Fire and Sanitation Departments, made the greatest hit.
I think the bravest and most appealing words came from Mrs. Barney Ross, who delivered a message for her husband, Corporal Barney Ross, United States Marine Corps. He has had to go back to the hospital with a recurrence of the malaria which he acquired on Guadalcanal. Mrs. Ross could hardly speak, but the audience knew why she was there and why she was so deeply stirred, and were grateful to her for coming.