AUGUST 8, 1952
HYDE PARK, Thursday—When I was in New York City on Monday I had a talk with a man who came to this country at the age of 16, an Italian immigrant named Anthony Cucolo. Today his home is in Rockland County, where he employs a good many men in his business. His children have all had the opportunity for a college education. He is deeply grateful to the United States and often says: "All that I have the United States has given me. I owe everything to my country."
Mr. Cucolo is actively working for a number of charities, and I am sure he carries his full responsibility as a citizen. What he came to talk to me about was the result of a conversation he had heard here when he recently came to Hyde Park on a visit.
Some young people were explaining why it seemed to them difficult to have faith in the future. They wanted peace, but how could they be sure that the world was not suddenly going to be one giant conflagration all around them, and they did not see how they, as individuals, could do much about it. They wanted a chance to build their own lives, to have what is commonly called security. And I suspect, above everything else, to feel free to think about their own interests, their own future, their own desires and hopes and not to be bothered about the hopes or desires or interests of any other people throughout the world.
My immigrant friend evidently turned this conversation over in his mind for a long time and then he asked to talk to me. He said he felt that there was as much opportunity in this country at this time for any young people as there had ever been. No one could ever really have absolute security because none of us can know what will happen to us from one minute to the next. But, said my friend, we are making a mistake in the education of some of our young people today. He said he realized they must have a college education, but we do not impress on them that a college education gives a youngster an opportunity and nothing else. Every individual must add hard work, character and determination to make the college education of any value.
Mr. Cucolo said some of these college graduates think that the mere fact that they have graduated from college gives them the right to the same pay and the same consideration that a man who has worked hard for 10, 15, or 20 years might have. This is where they are wrong, he maintains.
With a college education and really hard work they may achieve more and they may do it faster. But without the work their college education will be of little value to them or to their employers.
He felt there should be more vocational guidance in the schools and colleges, and while he did not wish to curtail general education in any way, he thought that our teachers and educators could do more both in school and college to impress on young people that, even when they had many opportunities, they still had to earn their ultimate success. They might be given more tools to work with, and they might be able to reach a higher level of success, but nothing could take the place of real hard, serious work and the experience gained from it.