FEBRUARY 27, 1948
HYDE PARK, Thursday—It seems to me very fortunate that a courageous publisher has just brought out a short book, in colored pictures and brief text, entitled "In Henry's Backyard." I think the idea for this type of book was suggested by the Walt Disney movie done from the original pamphlet but, however it was conceived, it is a most entertaining little book. Both the text and the illustrations are delightful. In popular form, it brings to young and old alike some established scientific facts. They seep into your consciousness with a laugh.
One hopes that certain pompous Southern gentlemen, now protesting violently that they will never put into effect the recommendations of the President's Civil Rights Commission, may see this book and begin to realize how funny they are. I am quite sure that the very gentlemen who bury their heads in the sand and want to live as they have always lived, in spite of the fact that the world around them has completely changed, would be the first to demand that our Constitution and Declaration of Independence must be regarded with the greatest respect. And yet these very documents were revolutionary and were designed to meet great changes in the world.
The Southern gentlemen who say they are in revolt against change are among those who flout our two sacred documents most openly. How inconsistent human beings sometimes are!
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It very often seems to me that men in public life have a hard time preserving their sense of humor. Perhaps when you become important, that is one of the first things you lose. I have always lacked a quick response to wit and humor, but I have always, I hope, been conscious of the inconsistencies in my own reactions and have been able to laugh at myself.
I have found this helpful when one has to swallow disagreeable developments about which one can do nothing. When the world moves on despite the fact that one would like to remain in a world as it was, that is one of those disagreeable situations which might better be faced with humor and resignation.
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There is one thing which, in spite of all our political differences, we all join in supporting every year. In a few days, in every State in the Union, people will be taking part in the opening of the American Red Cross fund-raising campaign of 1948.
No one has to be told of the value of the Red Cross in wartime, but we sometimes have to be reminded that there are many programs and services which are carried on after a war is over. There is still work to do for our armed forces and for veterans. But even more important, the Red Cross is always on call to help the victims of disaster throughout our country.
This year it is seeking $75,000,000 from the people of the United States—a sum which is not too great either for the generosity of the people or for the needs of the Red Cross.