SEPTEMBER 6, 1956
GENEVA—I want to tell you a little something about a hospital in France which has become quite well known in many parts of the world.
A few years ago when I was in Paris I was approached about the construction of a hospital in St. Lo, one of the towns almost completely destroyed when our troops were liberating France. I thought raising the money would be very difficult. But finally the cities of Baltimore and Kansas City, whose men had fought in that area, gave a tremendous amount toward rebuilding St. Lo and also built the hospital.
It is a general hospital and serves a countryside populated by 88,000 people. It had just been visited by a group of Danish doctors a few days before we, as a party, spent the night with the Prefect of St. Lo and got up early the next morning to look at the hospital.
This institution now is able to function at two-thirds of its capacity. But while all the outer walls are completed, money is needed to finish the whole interior of one wing, which would add 200 beds. The hospital has many new features and is, in many ways, one of the most attractive I have ever seen.
No room has more than four beds. While the rooms, for the most part, are painted white, the wall behind each patient's bed is usually done in color to give the room a brighter aspect. All the rooms face the south, and the operating rooms and equipment are as modern as it is possible to obtain today.
Besides the money needed to complete the building and to equip the unfinished rooms, I felt there were a few things that might be done immediately by some particular group.
For instance, there is a children's nursery at one end of the pediatric ward in which four children played with one wooly object no longer resembling a teddy bear, if it had been one, and a few pieces of cardboard box and scraps of paper around the floor.
Are there no toy–makers in Baltimore or Kansas City who might be willing to donate full equipment for that playroom?
The ex-mayor of St. Lo told me that Boston, and New England generally, also had helped St. Lo but that American Aid to France which, I believe, was the name of the organization that originally raised the money, had gone out of existence. I wonder if it could not be reactivated.
The hospital stands as a kind of link between the people of these American cities. And the people of France who suffered greatly, now only beginning to recover, have an undying gratitude to our soldiers who died freeing their country, even though it was necessary to destroy so much of it in the process.
Somehow, as I looked upon the rows of crosses in cemeteries and the names of those carved onto the walls of one cemetery, I felt that there was an indissoluble link between France and the U.S. because so many people in our country have a little of their heart buried with some loved one in these fields of France.
The St. Lo hospital is one to be proud of and, since there were people who cared enough to build so much of it, I wish it might be possible for them to fulfill finally the dream of making the hospital complete.
In my morning hours in Paris Saturday I bought a winter hat, for I found myself the only one going around in a summer one. I had my hair washed, bought a few gifts to take home, paid my bills at the hotel and had the pleasure of having lunch with Madame Leon Blum, who had not changed at all since we last met.
I also saw a young Miss Scherbatskoy, whom I have known since she was a little girl in Washington of my daughter's age.
Then I took a plane for Geneva. We had a very rough trip and after dinner there was a long meeting of the U.S. delegation here for the meeting of the World Federation of United Nations Associations. And so ended a busy week.