FEBRUARY 22, 1949
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have just received a copy of a letter written by my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt to the French poet, Frederic Mistral, who was a lover of peace and who felt strongly that a federation of the democratic nations of the world would someday be possible given strong moral and spiritual leadership.
Just as the French Gratitude Train is making its way to different parts of our country, it is interesting to read what Theodore Roosevelt wrote to this dreamer who dreamed constructively of a future peaceful world.
Here is the translation of the letter, which was sent me in French. It was written at the White House, in December 1904.
"My dear M. Mistral:
Mrs. Roosevelt and I are delighted with the books which you have sent us. For twenty years we've had a copy of 'Mirelle.' This copy we will now close and keep for the memories which are attached to it. The other which comes to us with a personal autograph, however, will from now on hold the place of honor. To you and your collaborators we wish complete success! You teach a lesson which none more than the American people, ardent nation, anxious and desirous of acquiring riches, needs to learn. This lesson reminds us that after the acquisition of a relatively considerable material success, the things which really count in life are things of the spirit.
Industries and railroads have their value, of course, but courage and endurance, the love of our children, the love of our country and our hearths, the love and imitation of heroes and the heroic virtues, are really the highest things in life. Without them accumulated riches, imposing and widely heralded industrialism, feverish activities, are neither profitable to the individual nor to the nation.
I do not underestimate the value of those things which are the body of the nation. I only desire that they shall not make us forget that beside the body there is a soul.
I thank you again for Mrs. Roosevelt and myself and believe me
This letter leads me to a little reminder of a matter that touches the spirit and our desire for equal opportunity to be given to a group of our people who are wards of the state. Six thousand Navajo school children, I am informed, will have their schools closed on March 15, because a deficiency appropriation of $550,000, approved by the Bureau of the Budget for continuing these schools, was stricken out by the House Appropriations Committee.
Do our citizens know that only one-quarter of the 25,000 Navajo children of school age are now able to secure schooling, and that of the entire Navajo population more than 80 percent are illiterate? Isn't this a neglect of the spirit which Theodore Roosevelt said was more important to a nation even than its material prosperity?