JUNE 28, 1955
NEW YORK—On Saturday Mr. Edward Pulling, head of Millbrook School, came to Hyde Park to take me over to the Greer School Commencement exercises where I gave the commencement address.
Greer School will soon be 50 years old. It was started to take in children, boys and girls who, because of serious illness, financial adversity, desertions or divorces, found their homes suddenly shattered and needed not only a school but a home environment.
Many a child looks on this school today as the only real home they have ever known, and the way in which the graduates return shows the devotion they have and the wisdom with which the school is run. The school has a devoted board of directors that has taken a personal interest but now it is faced with raising a large sum of money—probably a million and a half dollars—to renovate the old building, to modernize plumbing, and lighting, and to furnish new equipment.
Part of the school training for the youngsters is to give them skills so that some of the work will be done by the pupils, but this work must be done under expert guidance. The fees paid by parents take care of the running expenses for about 130 children, but there are 190 enrolled. Therefore, the sum I have mentioned also aims at providing full scholarships for some 60 students. These are the ones who either have no parents or whose parents are unable to take care of expenses, modest as they are at Greer School.
I know two little boys who are there now. Their mother was one of the loveliest young creatures I've ever known. She was one of my pupils when I was teaching during a brief period. She had a brilliant mind, but unfortunately she died young. It may well be that her children will be very valuable citizens someday, and their father is doing all he can to help them become so. And there must be many others in the school who show the same promise of future service to their country.
I looked at the graduating class and thought what fine looking boys and girls they are and how precious in every country is its youth, how important that they have surroundings and opportunities that will allow them to grow and develop in the best possible way.
I hope the Greer School will be able to raise the money it needs and continue the work it has done so well in the past fifty years.
Senator John F. Kennedy has written a letter to Senator William Langer, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on refugees and escapees, that should be read by all of us. Senator Kennedy suggests amendments to the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 in order to allow more help to be given to escapees and refugees from behind the Iron Curtain, so that they may be resettled in other countries. Secondly, he wants the expiration date extended and unused quotas made available to other groups, such as Greeks, Italians, Poles, French, etc., and he hopes the limit will be raised far over the present 209,000 people.
I like the quotation at the end of Senator Kennedy's letter in which he says the Refugee Relief Act should not be what John Boyle O'Reilly once termed:
In the name of a cautious, statistical Christ."
Let us hope that we can approach this question in our Congress, in our homes, and in our communities with generosity, for in the end we will benefit.