APRIL 30, 1957
NEW YORK—The other day I was visited by Therese Bonney, whom I had not seen for many years. She has come to this country to try to get support from us for a plan which she started five years ago with American troops stationed in France.
We have a goodly number of GI's in the NATO troops in France. When we found that the Communists were winning the sympathy of the French people with their billboard campaign and signs reading: "Go Home, Americans," Miss Bonney was called in to help stem the tide of animosity. She decided to do something to bring the average GI and the average French family together, and thus to change those signs so they would read "Come Home With Us." This month is the fifth anniversary of the "friendship chain" she inaugurated. Up to now her main support has come from business people in France, and she hopes business people here will now match what has been done over there.
More than 3,500 of our young men in the armed forces have met and been entertained by French families in these past years. It has made an enormous difference to the real understanding between our countries. In this plan, the effort is made to bring people together of similar backgrounds. For instance, a boy from an American farm will visit a French farmer's family. It will not be for just one meal or one day; he may stay ten days, and he will go back over and over again whenever he has free time.
It has worked so well in France that now Miss Bonney is starting the same thing in other countries. She takes groups of American soldiers on trips to various countries, where they are entertained by families and get to know the people of the country.
It seems to me that this is an undertaking in international understanding which deserves the support of any American who wants to see us make friends with our European partners.
Last Thursday evening I went to the Philharmonic Symphony concert in Carnegue Hall, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos and with Louis Kentner as the soloist in the second Brahms Piano Concerto. The critics have all been enthusiastic about Mr. Kentner's playing. Not being a critic, I can only say that I enjoyed the concert very much indeed and had a delightful evening. I am glad that Mr. Kentner came here this year for his first tour, for I feel he will now be back very often. As an artist he is a joy, and I think everyone who knows him cannot fail but feel the warmth and charm of his personality.