OCTOBER 3, 1955
MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—I see by the papers that we are planning another exchange of Russian visitors. This time apparently it will be engineers and newspaper people. But they will come on diplomatic passports, because the Russians feel that fingerprinting is only for criminals and have thus far refused to be fingerprinted.
Although this is one of the requirements for visas if one is coming into this country, I am beginning to wonder if it is really necessary to insist on fingerprinting for everybody. It is a messy business, as I well know, for I went to get a pistol permit the other day at my local police precinct office and it took me 24 hours to get my hands really clean afterwards. Since I am a free American citizen, I did not mind being put in the class of criminals as far as fingerprinting went. I had also submitted to it in the White House during the war. But I can understand how foreigners feel, and I just don't see the necessity of having every foreigner fingerprinted for a visa—especially now, when we are going to have more and more visitors.
Representative Frank Thompson Jr. of New Jersey has been talking in Congress for a long time about exchanges on many levels, and of late the State Department has actually been financing some cultural exchanges—among them, some symphony orchestras which we have helped to go abroad. We really should have as many different types of people as possible undertake these exchange visits, and I am glad to hear they are going to send artists, musicians, engineers and others, and also include the Iron Curtain countries in the program. That seems to me a real advance, but it should be made easy and not difficult. A number of countries abroad now require no visas.
On Thursday evening I attended a dinner of the Hundred Year Association of New York, an interesting association of businessmen representing organizations that have been in business for more than 100 years. Since 1930 they have given a gold medal each year in recognition of "outstanding achievement for the advancement of New York." This year the medal was presented to Brigadier General David Sarnoff, "pioneer founder and leader in electronics communication." Life magazine presented the David Sarnoff story in pictures with narration, Eddie Fisher and Marian Anderson sang, and New York's Mayor Robert F. Wagner presented the award. It was a very distinguished occasion, I thought, and General Sarnoff's speech of acceptance was excellent.
Organizations which give recognition for service rendered are of great value, I think, for no matter how unselfish people may be it is a satisfaction to have some recognition for the work that has been done. When that recognition can be given before so distinguished a company as was present the other night, there is no one who would not appreciate the honor.