AUGUST 22, 1946
NEW YORK, Wednesday—As I travelled up to Boston by train yesterday, the sun shone on a green and lush landscape. On the whole, we have had so much rain in this part of the country that our landscape is especially luxuriant. Goldenrod and purple loose strife, or fire weed as some people call it, blended together in field after field.
I have been enjoying my purple weed, which I wait for every year at Hyde Park and which never disappoints me. It grows in the swamp and all around the far bank of the brook, so that I can look out my window and see a sea of purple stirring in the gentle breeze. Until yesterday, however, I did not realize how much this weed has spread all through the New England countryside.
The world looked like a beautiful world and I felt that my heart should respond with joy, but my thoughts were sad over the death of my nephew. However, what nature could not do for me, two gallant human beings accomplished, for I found my sister-in-law and her daughter putting into action magnificently what many of us say we should do but rarely can. We know that life must go on and that, while those who leave us live on in our hearts, still the business of living must be cheerfully accomplished. Henry Roosevelt's mother and sister loved him dearly, but they greeted us with smiles and made us glad that we could be together and talk of Henry.
Many people all over the world, in the last few years, have had to bear the loss of loved ones still in their early youth. All these people feel the same regret that there could not be fulfillment of the hopes and aspirations of these young men and women whose lives were cut short by the war. Perhaps in the mere knowledge that grief is shared by so many people, one has the feeling that there must be some purpose in all this suffering. This helps those who are left here to carry on their daily lives—and to do it gallantly, as I saw it done yesterday.
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On the trip back in the train, I read the account of a meeting held last May by the Citizens Committee on the Children of New York City. It seemed to me rather a unique kind of meeting, since it was staged almost after the manner of a hearing in court, with the children of New York City as the petitioners against the people of the city. The conditions that exist for children here were covered by those who appeared in their behalf. Accounts of the day nurseries, the schools, the playgrounds, the courts all formed a part of the testimony—and the people of New York have not done well by their children.
As I read, I kept thinking that all these agencies must, of course, be coordinated, that the recommendations of experts must be followed out, but back of it all something bothers me. There is something wrong with our civilization, there is something wrong with our whole economic setup. Much more time and thought should be put, not only on coordination for helping children who have suffered because of wrong conditions, but on correcting the basic faults which bring such situations about.
We once had a National Resources Planning Board, which was setup to help us think through some of our economic problems. It was abolished by Congress because they preferred our usual haphazard methods of no planning. I believe in meeting things as you come to them and in flexibility in all plans. But I believe also in trying to find out what are the problems before a nation and making some plans to deal with those problems. The result of a laissez-faire policy seems to be so harmful to our whole civilization, and will hurt particularly the weak and blameless who can do nothing to remedy the situation themselves.