MARCH 13, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Yesterday I did one of the stupidest things of my more or less careless existence! I wrote down that I was to be at 49th Street and Broadway at 6 p.m. but failed to note the name of the place where I was expected, apparently forgetting that there are four corners at 49th and Broadway! When I arrived there, I saw soldiers' buses lined up along the sidewalk and thought they probably had a bearing on my engagement, but I couldn't decide which of the four corners I was expected to go to—and so I went back home.
About an hour later, a reporter called me to say that the party at which I was expected had begun. I started out again and went back to 49th and Broadway. This time, I found the right door and went into a really wonderful party being given for several hundred wounded veterans by the Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary.
The dinner was good and the entertainment was even better. Bill Robinson danced, and the orchestra was playing its best. They stopped long enough to let me say a few words, and then I came on home.
But somehow I can't forget the men and women I saw there. They carry with them the marks of war. They know what war really costs and I think they are the people who should talk to us today.
* * *
As I was leaving, a young reporter from the United Press asked me several questions, among them: "Do you share the pessimism of the great majority of the press as to our foreign relations at the present time? Do you feel that the United Nations Organization is probably on the way to holding its last meeting? Do you feel that Mr. Churchill's speech makes it impossible for the major powers to work together?"
The mere fact that a very fine reporter from a responsible news service was sent to ask me these questions points to a lack of realization on the part of a great many people as to the actual seriousness of another war. It isn't just a question of another war in which hundreds of thousands of young people would lose their lives. It is a question of wiping out the civilization which now exists upon the earth.
If we go on taking it for granted that the organization which we have set up to try to prevent war is going to be ineffectual, and if we give up hope before we actually make any effort to succeed, then I think it shows a lack of imagination on the part of the leaders of thought in this country which brands us as being unrealistic in facing the future.
It is, of course, entirely possible to divide the world into armed camps and look at each other with suspicion. We can live in constant fear—and end by destroying each other. But if we take that path, we must do it with our eyes open and count the cost beforehand. Tomorrow I will discuss where this path will lead us.