JUNE 29, 1951
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Wednesday morning I went to the Commencement exercises of one of our Poughkeepsie high schools. It is always a rather solemn thing to face rows and rows of young people and realize that the world opening up for them is a strange and difficult one for which neither their elders nor frequently their schools have been able to prepare them very well. It is also a heartening thing, however, to see them rise to the challenges that are put up to them.
As I watched the youngsters come up to accept the scholarships and prizes they had won, as I heard the young valedictorian announce that they were ready for the competition of the world, having had their first taste of competition in their school days, and realizing well that that was only the beginning of the competition they must face in their mature life, I felt a great sense of confidence in our future.
Two ladies who carry considerable responsibility came to spend last night with me—Mrs. James D. Wyker, chairman of the United Church Women, National Council of the Churches of Christ, and Mrs. W. Murdock MacLeod, general director of the organization. Mrs. Wyker has just taken over the position held so long by Mrs. Harper Sibley, and it is a position in which leadership is important.
In every state of the Union the church women can be a tremendous power. They are usually the respected people in their communities and they are listened to by young and old. If they want to institute particular programs in their communities they can usually do it, and when they wake up to the influence they can have in the state legislatures and in the national congress, they are going to be a real force in the political life of the nation. And they can do much to help our international relations as well.
I was happy to have the opportunity to know these two ladies a little better.
My young niece, Amy Roosevelt, is staying with me briefly while en route to a camp where she is going to teach tennis and various other sports this summer. She has a gift for getting on with children and the small fry around here are asking her every minute to come and play table tennis or to go swimming.
While I talk about the young people, I want to say a word about the 19 million boys and girls who make up the Junior Red Cross. From June 25 to June 27 the annual Red Cross convention was held and during the session in New York the young people took an active part.
President Woodrow Wilson founded the Junior Red Cross in 1917, and in spite of two World Wars and the shadow of a third hanging over them, this organization has kept alive its early ideals and international friendships. The young group is active in civil defense and many of the boys know they soon face Army service.
I think it is a very valuable thing for these young people to begin early to train for the work of the Red Cross, which is so essential not only in times of war but in times of any emergency, here or abroad.