MARCH 3, 1954
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—The meeting Sunday night at which Vice President Nixon brought the message from the President and spoke himself at the AAUN conference in Washington was a very well-attended meeting. Just before its close, after the speech which was delivered on the air was over, and after the very Rev. Msgr. George C. Higgins of the National Catholic Welfare Conference had delivered his message, the Vice President spoke again.
Mr. Nixon emphasized that the guests on the dais were representatives of a nonpartisan attitude toward the U.N. and foreign affairs in general and he brought out the fact that regardless of party, Americans travelling abroad had a diplomatic and international responsibility because they created an impression in areas of the world where party labels could mean very little. Every traveller demonstrated what the United States as a whole believed in, and the Vice President said that Mr. Stevenson and I had had a responsibility to represent the American point of view which we had done creditably.
Of course, representing the President's Administration, Mr. Stevenson had naturally carried official prestige as well, and his responsibility was greater, but I thought he emphasized a good point that all of us who travel abroad should remember. We have a responsibility to represent our country in a nonpartisan fashion, to the people of the world.
I sometimes have to make a rapid transition from my nonpartisan work in the AAUN to my interest in the Democratic party! This morning I spent a little while talking with our Democratic National Chairman, Mr. Stephen Mitchell, who seems to me to have some very good ideas about getting to the people information on subjects that touch their own lives. As chairman, he must be interested in building an organization everywhere and I hope that he will succeed in every state in finding good workers to build a party which can support efficiently the campaigns for Congress and state and local offices this autumn and for national office in 1956.
The rest of Monday was devoted to nonpartisan activities. I spoke at the conference lunch and was introduced by Mr. Gardner Cowles who had just returned from South Africa. He has had a most interesting trip, covering Egypt and the Near East as well and bringing back much valuable information.
Most interesting workshops were carried on all through the morning and in the afternoon at the plenary session reports were given by the various workshop chairmen and from 4:30 to 5:00 the Hon. David Key, Assistant Secretary of State for U.N. affairs, spoke to the conference.
I was sent a letter yesterday which came to me from Glenham, New York, about two bills, one in the House, No. HR 3687, and one in the Senate, No. S 1256, which are now under consideration. It appears that under the 1948 Claims Act certain injustices were done which these two bills seek to correct. For instance, a man in charge of the Navy gun crew on an oil tanker in the South Atlantic was wounded in a fight with a German raider. The raider picked him up and turned him over to the Japanese. The Japanese refused to intern him and he spent three years at forced labor as a prisoner of war, but his claims for benefits have been disallowed because he was captured in the South Atlantic instead of in the Pacific! There were very few Americans involved in these injustices and therefore veterans and civic organizations are not much interested. Nevertheless, the injustices exist and I think if the American people knew about these bills they would urge their representatives to pass them so that they can provide for the men who fought for our freedom.