JANUARY 10, 1958
NEW YORK—I have a letter from a woman who tells the sad story that I hear more and more often these days.
She is a widow whose husband, a war veteran, died 27 years ago and left her to raise five children. She wrote to draw my attention to the fact that even though widows of veterans get a pension, it is not enough for them to live on. Her pension is $54.18 a month.
This woman lives in southern Texas, but even there her pension is not sufficient to live on. She has worked hard all her life. Her husband was a bodyguard for President Theodore Roosevelt on many of his speaking tours.
She is unable to make ends meet because she no longer can work. Her children, she says, are married and have their own families to raise and she does not think it right to burden them with her support.
I feel that it is not too much to ask that each child give her a small amount, yet I have great sympathy for her feeling that after a life of hard work she should be entitled to a pension covering the necessities of life so she need not depend on her children.
I feel a reassessment of Social Security benefits in the pension field should be made. The cost of living has gone up. Of late, prices always seem to be going up and never coming down. Perhaps there should be a sliding scale for pensions to meet the changes in living costs.
I think, too, that pensioners are a group which probably should be given some of our surplus foods, for no one in this country should be on a diet below the standards of healthy living.
Most of these people are old, and perhaps Congress will not think their votes amount to much. But this group is certainly getting larger in this country and, therefore, even from a political standpoint, this situation should receive consideration from both Republicans and Democrats.
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I want to tell you something about a new organization, a voluntary health agency formed in Philadelphia called the National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation. It has been in existence only two years and already has 40 chapters in different parts of the country.
Reason for this rapid growth is that parents and friends of infant victims of cystic fibrosis have determined to find a way to cure this disease.
In the past the occasional victims were supposed to have been only small children, with their chance of recovery considered negligible, but now it has been found that children in their teens and even a few adults suffer from cystic fibrosis, and there are about 7,000 new cases a year. This may be a low estimate because sometimes this disease may not be diagnosed and instead may be confused with certain respiratory or digestive ailments.
But since 50 percent of the children afflicted with cystic fibrosis usually die from it, real consideration in the research area should be given it. Symptoms, appearing almost immediately after birth, consist of a chronic cough, repeated pneumonia, bulky diarrhea and a tremendous appetite but poor weight gain.
Researchers will try first to discover the causes of the disease, then to develop methods of control, and eventually hope to find a cure. This is one of childhood's deadliest diseases and, therefore, support of this foundation should come from everyone interested in children.