MAY 23, 1944
NEW YORK, Monday—While I was up at Hyde Park, I spent a very interesting hour hearing Dean Mildred Thompson of Vassar College tell me something about the meeting in London and the formation of a United Nations organization for postwar education. Congressman Fulbright was chairman of our delegation, which was composed of very distinguished men and one woman!
It seems to me that this subject is one in which we should all be tremendously interested. We know that it was through education that the Nazi ideology gained such a firm hold on German youth. We realize also that in all the occupied countries the German methods of education have held sway for the past four or five years. To be sure, in their homes, the children have probably been indoctrinated with resistance to Nazi ideas. But something must have remained with them of what they learned in school. It would be natural if most of the children enjoyed such things as learning to march and salute and sing in unison, for all these things attract youth.
Just as education helped bring about war in Europe, we will now have to bend our energies to make education bring about peace in the future. So this meeting in London was of paramount importance, not only because some very able men and women met and decided on how they could form a United Nations organization to cover this important field, but because this subject has as much bearing on peace in the future as food, or relief, or even aviation.
Someone wrote me the other day to remind me of the part which Clara Barton played in the signing of the Treaty of Geneva and the founding of the International Red Cross. Certainly we have come to take the functions of the Red Cross for granted today, and it is hard to believe that at any time the Red Cross did not exist. How could we feel we were fulfilling our obligations to sick and wounded human beings when this organization was not in existence?
Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton were two women who fully realized the importance of an idea, and went to work to see that that idea was carried out during their lifetimes. They saw that it remained as an organization for future service. If these two women could accomplish so much in days gone by, when women had far less opportunity for public service than they have today, surely the women of today can do much to bring the questions of national and international education before the people of the world. They can insist that we give it its proper place in the future, so that it may serve the cause of world peace.