DECEMBER 9, 1948
PARIS, Wednesday —Before we left our meeting room at 6:45 last night, our chairman in Committee No. 3 told us that when we returned for the evening session to come prepared to stay until the work on the Declaration of Human Rights was finished. Our job was to arrange the articles in their proper sequence. We were warned the task would run far into the morning.
I dashed for home because I had invited Mr. and Mrs. Charles La Follette and their daughter to have dinner with us, telling them I would have to leave at 8:15 to go back to work. They accepted that cheerfully, realizing that everyone who works with the General Assembly is now obliged to spend long hours every day and often many nights at meetings.
As I was leaving the committee room, a gentleman stopped me and said, "I am from the Army press and we are going to start a March of Dimes campaign about the fifteenth of January. Would you just do a few minutes on the radio for us before you leave—a minute and a half would do it."
So I dashed off a minute-and-a-half speech in German, being sure it was correct and that I could speak it understandably. Then with unusual firmness I managed to say that from now on until I left I could not do one thing more. He then asked me if, when I got home in America, I would do a short speech for them there, too.
I had visions of accumulated mail, of telephones ringing, of someone asking me every minute to do something, of children arriving for Christmas and all the last-minute Christmas preparations, of a hurried trip to Washington perhaps to report to the President and Secretary of State and of radio shows to be done.
I looked at him for a moment hopelessly and said, "I doubt if, when I get home, up to January 15 I will have time to breathe. But if I have time I will try to do it for you." He was very flattering but instead of feeling flattered I found myself wishing that someone would occasionally realize there are only 24 hours in a day.
It was pleasant to have a few minutes with Mr. and Mrs. LaFollette and their daughter at dinner. I enjoyed being with them in Stuttgart, and I was rather sorry to see them going home, but we will be following them shortly.
And I realize this is a good time for liberals to go home. After being here for the last three months I realize that if we are going to win the battle for democracy, which is, after all, the most important business before us at the moment, we will have to do it largely on the home front.
Every one of us in Europe or in the international meetings here knows how carefully everything that happens in the United States is watched today. No issue is any longer a completely domestic issue. It reaches the farthest corner of the world and is weighed neither for nor against us as a nation only but for or against democracy and our form of government and way of life.
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Just as I thought would happen at our evening session, we had to work until after 3 o'clock this morning.
When I handed my coat to the young check girl at 8:30 last night, I said, "Perhaps you had better show me where you put it in case you will have left when I am ready to go home."
"Oh, no," she replied. "When I know it is Committee No. 3 meeting I plan to stay all night. I sleep right here with the coats. It is the worst committee we have."
However, we did finish our work and, we hope, in time for the General Assembly to consider it and pass it at this session. Even though the declaration is not exactly as the United States delegation would have written it, it nevertheless is the result of 58 countries' work done together over a long period of time, and it represents real and sincere effort and devotion on the part of the members of Committee No. 3 and its chairman, Dr. Charles Malik of Lebanon.