OCTOBER 24, 1944
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have a letter from one of our American military officers in France which I am going to reprint exactly as it came to me. It is an appeal to a special group in this country, but it is typical of what I think will be asked of many other cities throughout the nations; and I am hoping that it will meet with a response in the hearts of the American people, and that they will find out what they can do, and try to do it. The letter follows:
"I am one of the American army officers who is attached for liaison and observation to the 2nd British Army Civil Affairs. It has been my recent privilege to talk with M. Paul Sion, Mayor of Lens, member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of France. He was formerly a miner, and is of the Socialist party here.
"You perhaps know that the first week of this month it was a matter of military necessity that this city had to be very heavily bombed, by Americans. They had suffered very much during previous bombardments and under the German heel, but the recent damage was simply terrific. Nevertheless, the people have taken it magnificently, and are very friendly and cooperative. They are very bravely and sturdily going about the rebuilding of the city—a city of some 30,000 people normally, mostly coal miners, and highly important to the war effort and to the economy of France, now and in the future.
"Monsieur Sion told me that the city of Lens was planning to build, with its own funds and labor, a large municipal center for welfare, medical, dental, prenatal and maternal care on a low-cost cooperative basis. His plan sounds very practical and has aroused great hope among his people.
"He asked me if I would write to you for him (since the civil mail does not yet operate) simply to ask this favor: That you should ask some city or group of cities in the United States to act as sponsor or godfather to this city of Lens. He wants only moral and spiritual backing and approval for his plan for the renaissance of Lens—he is not seeking loans or material.
"The American people are greatly admired and loved here. It would be a splendid gesture, and a great builder of morale for a brave and hard-working industrial and mining people, if some city in the United States, particularly a mining city, were to assume this sponsorship."
I feel, of course, that the contact should be made direct, but I hope a group of cities will do more than give moral support.