APRIL 6, 1951
NEW YORK, Thursday—We had a memorable day, at Hyde Park on Wednesday. The President of France and Madame Auriol, Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, the Ambassador and Madame Bonnet, Madame Chauvel and various other members of the French President's party and representatives from the State Department came up to lay a wreath on my husband's grave.
My son, Elliott, and his wife greeted them there, along with Secretary of the Interior Oscar Chapman, A.E. Demaray, Associate Director of the National Park Service, and several other officials from the Department of the Interior.
After a brief visit to the house and the library, the whole party came to my cottage for lunch. We were really running on schedule, for they were all due at West Point in the early afternoon. I don't think we ever served a buffet luncheon to so many people so quickly! I hope everybody had enough to eat, for they weren't given a chance for second helpings.
I wanted to drink a toast to "La Belle France" and to the President and all our French guests because I always have had such a very warm feeling for the country of the Marquis de Lafayette, who helped us out so valiantly in our very earliest days. But I found I had only American champagne from the State of New York! I made my apologies, for I knew the French probably would have preferred the wine of their own country. With true French politeness, however they assured me it was excellent champagne, which is a feather in the cap of our local producers.
To my complete surprise at the end of lunch President Auriol presented me with the Order of Commander of the Legion of Honor. It is such a highly coveted honor, and I do not feel that I in any way earned it, that I accepted it, with a very great humility. It is a great pleasure to receive such an honor. I was also happy to receive a photograph of President Auriol, for I look upon him as one of the statesmen who has helped to keep the world on an even keel in this extremely difficult period.
The cold war is still largely a matter of nerves and you have a profound respect for a man who can speak as the President of France has spoken since he has been in this country. He leaves one with the feeling that he will remain calm and meet whatever difficulty with courage and resolution. There is something solid about him in which you can put your trust and he possesses a deep emotional feeling that somehow responds to the finest emotions of the people of the United States.
I said goodby to the President and Madame Auriol and Mr. Schuman with a real sense of gratitude for having been allowed to entertain even briefly such people for whom I have much affection and respect. I hope they will look back on their visit to the United States with real satisfaction, for I am sure it has done much to keep our two nations together.
I was glad to read yesterday morning that the Senate had not tied President Truman's hands and that we would be able to do whatever our military leaders felt was necessary for the defense of our own land wherever the need arose.