APRIL 5, 1956
NEW YORK—On Tuesday evening I went to the dinner given by the International Rescue Committee in honor of Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, who just returned from his latest Antarctic expedition.
Admiral Byrd is honorary chairman of the IRC, which was founded in 1933 as a voluntary American organization to aid escapees from dictatorship, terror and oppression. It has a very strong board.
There was a large attendance at the dinner, even though it unfortunately was held at the same time the Overseas Press Club was giving its dinner at which former President Harry S. Truman spoke.
The dinner for Admiral Byrd opened with an address by Angier Biddle Duke, with Leo Cherne, chairman of the IRC, presiding. Richard C. Patterson, New York City's commissioner of commerce and public events, represented the mayor in presenting the medal to Admiral Byrd for distinguished service to science and the world.
As Admiral Arleigh Arthur Burke reviewed Admiral Byrd's whole career, I remembered the boy we knew so many years ago when my husband was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Richard E. Byrd was a graduate of the Naval Academy who, because of an injured knee, was threatened with retirement from the service.
I can remember his joy when his knee soon healed and he was returned to active service, and recall many of the good times we had together.
My husband and I once gave a fancy dress party to which all the guests were invited to come dressed as characters out of books. Young Richard E. Byrd had no way of getting a costume so, prophetic as it may have been, I dressed him up as one of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera "admirals."
None of us knew what fate held for him then, but certainly no one has had a more fruitful and satisfactory life. Even now, there is something of the young man about him. But I must say that Mrs. Byrd looks even younger than he does and is much the same person whom I knew as a young woman—gentle, self-effacing, disliking publicity, but pretty and full of charm and tact.
It was a pleasure to see their children Tuesday night—all grown up since I last saw them and with children of their own. I don't know whether other people are as surprised as I am at the rapidity with which those we still look upon as young grow up!
The Nation magazine for April 7 has used on its cover one of my favorite etchings of my husband, done by Oskar Stoessel, a Viennese who fled Austria after the Anschluss. Mr. Messersmith gave him a letter to my husband, who sat for this portrait in 1940.
This etching illustrates an article by Rexford G. Tugwell called, "F.D.R. Living Memorials." I like the article very much and look forward to the book on which Mr. Tugwell is now working.