NOVEMBER 12, 1945
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I have been asked to emphasize two phases of the present bond drive. One is expressed in the slogan: "Victory Bonds Are Thanksgiving Bonds." Parents and relatives who buy these bonds may do so and feel they are expressing their gratitude that their menfolk are now safe from the actual dangers of fighting. Between now and Thanksgiving Day, therefore, we can all feel that this is one way in which we can actually help to make possible, through buying these bonds, the things which we owe to the men who have won the war for us.
Another point, which was emphasized to me when we held our rally at the opening of this campaign at the Library at Hyde Park, is the fact that anyone can order by mail, from our postoffice there, the $200 Bond known as the "Roosevelt Bond." This is the one which carries a photograph of my husband on the face of the bond.
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I received a note the other day telling me of the death of Mrs. Henry Howard of Newport, Rhode Island. For 24 years she was the president of an organization which collected and sent books to the ships of our Merchant Marine, because these men had no way of obtaining libraries except at their own expense. Since they went on long voyages and spent most of their life at sea, they had no opportunity to visit public libraries. During her life, Mrs. Howard received many letters from men in ports all over the world expressing their gratitude, and I am sure this amply repaid her for the devoted work which she carried on.
I speak of her work now because the Merchant Marine has played such a great part in winning the war, and I feel that we, the people, owe them a great deal. The men are now worried that the same thing may happen which occurred after the last war, and that many of the ships which have been built will be laid up and allowed to become useless. They are asking for the passage of a bill, already introduced, which will give them some of the benefits and security that men of the regular Navy enjoy.
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Much has been said during the war about the high wages and special bonuses paid to men in the Merchant Marine. But very little is said about the fact that these men have no pension, are not included in the social security legislation, and do not have for their families the same security that a man in the Navy has a right to ask for and receive. The seamen have had to fight their way up from unbelievably low standards of work and wages to better conditions, but these are none too good. Above everything else, these men want to be sure of fairly constant employment. Without that assurance, they can never enjoy their short rests at home when they are with their families.
If the legislation pending in Washington is not passed, I hope there will be a demand for its enactment on the part of grateful citizens who recognize the courage and ability which went into meeting the requirements of the war. It is essential that we have some legislation which gives consideration to our Merchant Marine as a whole.