MARCH 13, 1948
NEW YORK, Friday—Yesterday I journeyed to Philadelphia. In the evening, Miss Anna Lord Strauss, head of the National League of Women Voters, and I received the M. Carey Thomas Award at Bryn Mawr College. This award is only rarely given and I feel deeply honored to be recognized along with Miss Strauss and the League.
It is significant, I think, that the award committee picked out this particular organization this year. I believe that ever since Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt conceived the idea that women, having gained the vote, should educate themselves to use it intelligently, the League has been trying to improve the quality of our democratic citizenship, at least where women are concerned. It has made a very notable contribution in this field. Its publications have been increasingly interesting to me, and I think they are reaching a constantly widening group of people.
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Never before was good citizenship so important to our country and the world as it is today.
The wheels of the train to Philadelphia kept saying to me: "What are you going to say tonight? What are you going to say tonight?" I felt I should have something really significant to say, but I could not talk as usual just about the United Nations and its objectives. Many of those in the audience would be young people looking for something by which to live. And as the train wheels went around, my thoughts went churning around: "What are you going to say? What are you going to say?"
In the end, I arrived at Bryn Mawr more or less unprepared, with only a few vague ideas floating around in my mind, but then, as I faced the audience, the thing I wanted to say was entirely clear. Democracy stands at the crossroads. We are citizens of this great democracy and it is up to us to find out what we can do to make democracy lead instead of standing still. The United States must really decide on her policies, domestic and foreign, and go through with them and, above all, make everyone, from the highest to the lowest, act with integrity.
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We have not always kept our word and this has done us harm, but our failures have been largely caused by confusion, not by evil intent. Other nations may have been somewhat clearer on their own interests, but they have been no clearer than we have been on thinking of the joint interests of the world and seeing that the policies decided on were lived up to.
One cannot wipe out the past, but one can make changes in the future. God grant that, in our schools and colleges today, there are young people who will be strong spiritually and morally as well as physically, who will not be afraid to pick up the pieces of this shattered world and try to bring it into some kind of unity.