OCTOBER 28, 1947
NEW YORK, Monday—When I am in New York City, I do not fully realize the impact which forest fires have on everybody, but I do in Hyde Park. There, we have great piles of leaves and we do not dare to burn them!
My son's house is surrounded by trees, and when my daughter-in-law heard someone at the door the other day inquiring about forest fires because the lookout had seen smoke in the valley, she was terrified and at once went scurrying over our land to make sure that no careless person had dropped a lighted cigarette anywhere. The dust is thick, and under our pine trees the deep, soft pine-needle bed is as dry as it can be, so you know that a fire would run through those woods in no time.
I haven't had to tell anyone who lives in the country not to light a match or a cigarette out of doors, but if I have city visitors at Hyde Park, I worry about them every minute.
This long drought is not so good for the winter wheat, but like all farmers I am an optimist and hope for rain soon. There was an old saying which was current among the farmers in my childhood—that before we have a deep freeze all the springs must fill up, so I hope they will begin that process immediately!
When one reads that $30,000,000 has just gone up in smoke in New England, one cannot but realize how helpless people are in the face of nature or divine Providence.
* * *
I saw with amusement the other day a newspaper story which bemoaned the fact that the United States was giving no leadership in the United Nations. Evidently the gentleman who wrote the piece, important as he is, did not stop to think about Secretary of State George C. Marshall's speech at the opening of the General Assembly, because in that speech were contained many of the things with which the Assembly has been most busily concerned.
Very wisely, I think, the United States is supporting the democratic method of putting matters before the representatives of the world, letting them argue the questions out, and then abiding by their decisions. We speak for our own measures, of course, but I think we count on the value of the proposition developing in open debate. And we try not to turn the United Nations into a place for bargaining behind closed doors or saying in effect, though it might be clothed in diplomatic language, "Willy-nilly you must vote for what I want, since I have great power and can make you suffer if you don't." That would be the quickest way to bring the United Nations to an end.
Real leadership means developing constructive programs, offering them for free and open discussion, and abiding by the opinion of the majority. That, I think, the United States is doing and will continue to do under our Secretary of State.