MAY 6, 1944
WASHINGTON, Friday—Yesterday, in coming out on the front porch of the White House, I was suddenly struck with the perfection of pink tulips around the fountain, and on the south porch of the White House we look out at a blaze of red tulips. They speak of spring and its ever renewed beauty.
These tulips have a special meaning for me, since they were the gift of the eminent historian, Dr. Hendrik Van Loon. They were sent to him from his beloved Holland. He offered them to the White House. He felt that as these tulips grew and flourished, it would be fitting to say that they had been presented by a good American historian who came from Holland to a President, some of whose forebears also came from Holland many generations ago.
Dr. Van Loon loved Holland and suffered because of her bondage. He fought until his death to make us in this country realize the dangers of Fascism. He wanted us to recognize the type of thinking that led to Fascism and the type of character that accepted Fascism. He knew that unless a people recognized the evils of this doctrine, any nation in the world could fall prey to the unrecognized infiltration of dangerous ideas. He was a very great man and a man to whom this country and the world owes a debt of gratitude.
For the mothers in this country I want to quote from a mother's letter. She wrote it in answer to a letter of sympathy written to her by a friend, after the death of her son in the service of his country.
"Your letter I put aside to reread to draw sweet comfort from it. No, we only lose the earthly being of our children, not their hearts or souls. They live on. God in His goodness loans us our children for our greater happiness, Tom (her husband) and I are so much richer for having had him. He was a wonderful son and a gallant soldier. When I lost a little son a few years ago, Tommy came to me and said, 'Don't cry, Mom, Heaven would be dull with just old folks.' I know he is now lighting some corner with his glorious Irish smile. My faith which is strong, like yours, thanks to God's great goodness, is carrying me on. I can feel Tommy walking by my side each step of the way with his great love and understanding. We were great pals, I shall miss him terribly, but I know he has gone to prepare a place for me in His Father's mansions. Into each life some rain must fall, and that makes us stronger and better men and women. The thought has occurred to me so many times these past few weeks—why couldn't the men who are to sit at the peace table settle it all before it started? There are many, many questions we cannot answer, but I am sure our dear Lord is suffering as we are."
Human mistakes and human frailities bring about the sorrows of the world. May we have the wisdom to establish machinery where men and women can meet to avoid future wars.