APRIL 21, 1960
NEW YORK—On Monday afternoon I addressed the members of the Golden Age Club of Springfield, Mass. This is a remarkable and active group of older people. The club has a large membership and is organized to go and visit various places of interest by bus.
I met with them during their 24-hour stay in New York and we discussed legislation pending in Washington. Among other things, we talked about the bill sponsored by Representative Aime J. Forand of Rhode Island as well as the one introduced by Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts.
These people are quite cognizant of the value of organization and the influence they can bring to bear. They have a breadth of interest, which is a very intelligent outlook and quite evidently adds to their enjoyment of living.
I am glad to see this interest in legislation because I think these are the people who can make a real dent in the thinking of our legislators. Whether they can have any effect at all on the Administration and the department that should be concerned about the welfare of our older people is something I am not able to judge. But as a group, properly organized, I think they will have as much impact as almost any in the country.
I wonder how many of our people have read a book, which can now be bought as a paperback for 50 cents, called "The Life of a Burma Surgeon, Gordon Seagrave." Surely, most of us have read about Dr. Seagrave at one time or another, but how many of us have really thought that here is one American who is really waging the battle to hold Burma on the side of freedom?
What we have to prove here at home and in our dealings with the newly freed countries of the world is that better standards of living can be attained, poverty and disease can be destroyed, and a broader scale of freedom achieved if cooperation and work is effected with the people of the United States who understand democracy.
Dr. Seagrave impressed Chester Bowles so much that he wrote the foreword to the little book about this man's life. He says: "Seldom were there sufficient drugs, anesthetics and even beds to care for the patients who came to him for help. But with ingenuity, driving energy and an irrepressible Yankee sense of humor Dr. Seagrave has brought the miracle of modern medicine to a remote and fast-changing corner of the world."
Here is a man who has dedicated his life to a work that will reflect honor on the U.S. and yet most of us forget he exists. Few of us send him money to help him out in his undertakings. His is almost an unknown mission and yet all of us may be indebted to him if Burma does not fall into the hands of the Communists for leadership.
We know what a gallant fight Prime Minister U Nu has put up to keep his country free and democratic, but he needs help. Help has been at hand in the person of Dr. Gordon Seagrave, but we the people, who figure to gain most, do very little to back up the work of a great man.