OCTOBER 10, 1946
NEW YORK, Wednesday—It was with great sorrow that, a few days ago, I read of the death of Gifford Pinchot, former Governor of Pennsylvania. To those of us who have had an interest in good government, he has held high the torch of unselfish service to his country.
I remember very well the first time I ever realized what conservation was. Mr. Pinchot came to Albany and spoke to the New York Legislature and showed some films of devastated areas in China. First he explained that once the hillsides had been covered with trees, and that the river had been well behaved and had never flooded the countryside; but as the trees were cut down, soil erosion took place and gradually the river carried more and more good soil out to sea, so that floods became a menace to all the neighboring territory. He translated this situation in China into terms of the United States, and showed us what could happen here if we did not prevent the cutting down of our virgin forests without replacing them.
Mr. Pinchot was waging a rather lonely fight then, and very few people paid much attention to his warnings. However, my husband was tremendously impressed and he began at once to replant trees on his own land in Dutchess Country, N. Y. He began to look for soil erosion wherever he went, and he taught me, too, to be conscious of this wasting of our land. The curious thing, which is not always remembered, is that where land is wastefully used and becomes unprofitable, the people go to waste, too. Good land and good people go hand in hand.
By dint of perseverance, Mr. Pinchot finally won many other citizens to join his crusade, and this crusade was only one of the many he carried on for good government. He was a Republican but also an independent, and he supported the principles and policies which he felt were of value to his country, regardless often of the party label.
He was not selfish nor self-seeking. Honors came to him, but he accepted them without laying too much stress upon them. It will be for his service as a grand human being that he will be remembered and missed by his neighbors and his fellow countrymen.
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I went yesterday to a luncheon in the interest of a campaign which the American Social Hygiene Association is launching to raise a fund of $300,000. Apparently, we are following the pattern of the last war. During the war, social diseases were fairly well kept down, but in the period immediately after the war, the number of cases began to increase very fast. Now, the percentage of increase is about the same—twice as many cases this year as were reported last year. And the numbers involved are greater by far than they were at the end of the first World War. Money is needed for research and educational projects.
At the luncheon, Vice-Admiral Ross T. McIntire, Surgeon General of the Navy, and Fannie Hurst, the authoress, made very excellent speeches. Afterward, a press conference was held which brought out the really interesting information that our teenage youngsters, at the present time, are the victims of social diseases in greater number than any other age group.