SEPTEMBER 20, 1961
HYDE PARK—There has been little on anyone's mind in the past two days except the terrible loss to ourselves and to the world in the death of the Secretary–General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold.
Here was a man of extraordinary integrity and great unselfishness and personal courage. He devoted himself to keeping peace in the world, and since the history of the U.N. is the history of our world the two Secretary–Generals, Trygve Lie and Mr. Hammarskjold, coming from neighboring Scandinavian countries will always be remembered as most-important world citizens—if we succeed in preserving our world.
They tried to serve both the East and the West, and Mr. Hammarskjold was in the midst of the reorganization of the Secretariat in order to give equal representation to the Asian and African states when he left on what was to be a short trip to the Congo. His trip was undertaken to try to bring about a united government and prevent a long-drawn-out civil war. Almost 13 years ago to the day Prince Bernadotte gave his life to try to bring about peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Sweden's contribution to the U.N. has been very great.
There is only one survivor of the 14 people who were on Mr. Hammarskjold's plane, and that man seems to be seriously injured, and could tell little except that there had been some explosions on the flight. Whether we will know any more about the aspects of this tragic accident no one can yet tell.
Now as the first shock of this tragedy wears off, the delegates to the U.N. must turn their attention toward trying to elect another Secretary–General. The Charter lays down methods by which this shall be done and there is no question but what it must be done as soon as possible. The comments of the Soviet Union that "time is ripe for structural changes" would seem to be the preliminary remark for an effort on their part to introduce their ideas for a "troika," or three-headed control body. It seems impossible that there would not be a two-thirds vote in favor of the one-man control, if there can be a nomination by the Security Council. But until the attitude of the Soviet Union is known, there can be little assurance of electing a Secretary–General quickly.
The procedure for the next day or so in the General Assembly is still in doubt, since there may well be eulogies from the different members which will take up a long period of time before much business can be done.
There never was a time when the expression of confidence and a determination on the part of our government and our citizens to uphold the U.N. and strengthen it was more important. So, I hope that from all over the country there will come expressions of sympathy for the great loss which the U.N. has sustained, and also expressions of confidence in the organization and in its power to go on with its work in the interest of peace in the world.
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From the 26 individuals recommended by an 11-man panel set up by the state on August 21, Mayor Robert F. Wagner has chosen and appointed a new nine-member Board of Education for the City of New York. Seven of the members come from Manhattan and there is one from Queens and one from Brooklyn.
As one looks over the list it is evident that the Mayor has considered the qualifications of the individuals, rather than any political interest.
The two members that I know personally very well are Mr. Lloyd K. Garrison, a lawyer who has a deep interest in education, and Mrs. Anna M. Rosenberg, a public relations consultant, whose keen intelligence has delved into so many problems of city, state and national life that her membership on any committee is sure to be a valuable contribution.
Prof. Clarence O. Senior will bring to the board not only his training as an educator, sociologist and economist, but a very great knowledge of Puerto Rican affairs both on the island and in the city. This will be of particular value in dealing with problems in the schools that have so many Spanish-speaking students at the present time.
Max J. Rubin has long been interested in education, and so has Morris Iushewitz. The latter is a labor leader of a very modern, college-trained type and is fully familiar with many of the problems of our school system.
There is one Negro member of the board, Samuel R. Pierce, and I am glad to say that he was chosen because of his real fitness for the job and not because he was a professional politician with influence in any particular area of Negro voters.
On the whole, this seems a tremendously good board and one that will take an interest in inspecting the schools and getting to know the youngsters and the teachers and will do a much more thorough job than has been done in the past.