FEBRUARY 9, 1960
LOS ANGELES—Anyone who has been reading the newspapers over the past few days could not help but be saddened by the airplane crash that killed so many people in a flight in Bolivia. Also, we have read that hope was abandoned of rescuing the men who were washed off a U.S. destroyer near Norfolk, Va. And we also read that efforts had to be given up in the attempt to free the hundreds of men trapped in a South African mine.
One reads of these things and, at first, they seem so far away. Then we learn that on the Paraguayan airliner, for example, there were seven Americans, and we realize how very closely almost anything that happens anywhere in the world can touch on some American home.
I have just renewed my membership as a "Friend of the New York City Center of Music and Drama." One of the reasons that makes me do this every year is the value of having the extremely good ballet, theatre, and now opera, performances at a price that a great many people can afford.
On February 11 the New York City Opera Company begins its third season of production of American operas. It will give 13 performances in New York and 30 more in 20 cities from Boston to St. Louis.
I hope the people of New York are proud of the achievements that the City Center offers us. We are not only a nation rich in material things, but we have a great cultural wealth as well. And it is actually the groups from the City Center that take the message to the rest of the country and even to foreign countries of what the city of New York offers along cultural lines.
The Ford Foundation recognized this and made a generous contribution so that it was possible to produce the operas written by Americans. Now for the first time we are reversing the flow of culture, which has often come to us from Europe, and we are sending some of our American works to be produced in the European opera houses.
I would like to mention today an honor that has come to a young New York City rabbi, Maurice N. Eisendrath. He has been awarded the first Spiritual Freedom Citation, given by the interfaith Chapel of the Four Chaplains, in Philadelphia.
None of us will ever forget these young chaplains who heroically gave up their chance to suvive and went down singing hymns together as their troop ship disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean.
It is good to be able to mention also that former Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin of Maryland is to be honored by the Congregation B'nai Jeshurun. He will receive the men's club 14th annual brotherhood award for his outstanding contributions in the implementation of the brotherhood ideal. The presentation will be made by Rabbi Israel Goldstein. Governor McKeldin has been one of the valiant champions of racial integration in schools and an articulate foe against racial and religious prejudice.
These two awards to men of different backgrounds and religions give us ground to hope that at least we recognize the qualities that are the pride of our nation, even though we do not always live up to these qualities and hopes.