JANUARY 9, 1952
PARIS, Tuesday—I received a notice today that made me think back to our years in the White House when I used to meet far more frequently the groups of Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls. This notice tells me that the Campfire Girls will celebrate their birthday the week of March 16 to 22.
The organized Campfire Girls was founded in 1910 for girls from 7 to 18 years. The intention was to give every girl the feeling that she was a needed part of the group. Youngsters in this age bracket are apt to feel lonely, and this organization was designed to help them make friends and develop means of self-expression. At the same time the aim was to give every girl a sense of personal responsibility in her home and family life which would lead to the development of a sense of responsibility as a citizen.
The campfire Girls represent all religious, racial and economic backgrounds and the organization has a membership of 365,000 girls today. These young ladies are developing friendship and understanding not only within the United States but throughout the world, and it may well be that as they grow older they may be a real factor in the development of better understanding among all peoples in this very troubled and divided world.
Not so very long ago a speech delivered by the Hon. Edward W. Barrett, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, was reported in the newspapers and in it he commented that we in the Western world were not making the effort to have our culture understood which was being made by the Soviet countries. Here in Europe one is very quickly aware of the fact that the U.S. has done very little to acquaint European people with the fact that there are artists and writers in our country who are worth becoming acquainted with.
We have not taken part in many cultural exhibits over here whereas the Soviet Union has neglected no opportunity to show the advances made within its borders. In view of this, I listened with the greatest interest to a representative of the Congress for Cultural Freedom the other day tell me that there was to be an international exhibition of the arts of our time held in Paris between April 29 and June 1 this coming spring.
This exhibition will feature the artists of the non-Communist world. The Boston Symphony Orchestra will make its first trip to Europe, with Charles Munch and Pierre Montreux conducting. There will be expositions of contemporary painting. There will be lectures on literary subjects and there also will be films and perhaps even dramatic presentations.
In fact, this may be, in the art world, one of the most exciting things that has been done in a long time and it may awaken both our allies and our enemies to a realization that the US is not just a source of dollars but also a source of real artistic appreciation and production.