Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Radio Address on the President's Sixtieth Birthday.

January 30, 1942

To all of you who are making tonight's celebrations such a success, I want to say—very simply—thank you.

In the midst of world tragedy—in the midst of sorrow, suffering, destruction, and death—it is natural for most of us to say even on a birthday or a feast day: "Isn't the word 'happy' a bit out of place just now?"

That was perhaps my own predominant thought this morning. Yet the day itself and the evening have brought with them a great reassurance that comes from the deep knowledge that most of this world is still ruled by the spirit of Faith, and Hope, and Charity.

Even in time of war those Nations which still hold to the old ideals of Christianity and democracy are carrying on services to humanity which have little or no relationship to torpedoes or guns or bombs. That means very definitely that we have an abiding faith in the future—a definite expectancy that we are going to win through to a peace that will bring with it continuing progress and substantial success in our efforts for the security and not for the destruction of humanity.

Our enemies must at this moment be wondering— if they are permitted to know what goes on- how we are finding the time during the grim business of war to work for the cause of little children. For, under the enemies' kind of government, there is no time for or interest in such things—no time for ideals; no time for decency; no interest in the weak and the afflicted to whom we in this country have dedicated this day.

It would not be strictly true to say that our enemies pay no attention to health or the relief of need. But the difference is this: with them it all comes from the top. It is done only on order from the Ruler. It is carried out by uniformed servants of the Ruler. It is based, in great part, on direction, compulsion, and fear. And the Rulers are concerned not with human beings as human beings but as mere slaves of the state—or as cannon fodder.

The United Nations of the world, of whom we are part, continue to put these things on a very different basis. We support our tasks of humanity in time of war, as in time of peace, through the same old system of telling the public of the great need and asking for the voluntary help of men, women, and children to fill it.

The fight against the disease of infantile paralysis has proven beyond doubt that the way democracy works—the voluntary way—is efficient and is successful. It is only ten years ago that this country undertook, through wholly private contributions, to organize every locality to carry on this great effort, not for a year or two, but for all the future years—so long as the fight can help humanity.

Today, as in these many years past, we continue this great crusade-made possible not by a few large gifts but by the dimes and the dollars of the people themselves.

This year there is only one difference proposed for the use of these gifts, a difference of which I think you will all approve. The Trustees of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis have told me that I can make the special announcement that the authorized county chapters throughout the Union may use such portion of their share of this year's funds as is necessary to give special assistance to the children of any of our soldiers and sailors and marines- their children who may fall victim to infantile paralysis. That, I hope, will be good news and a well-deserved boon to the fathers who are serving their flag on land and on sea in many parts of the world, and good news to the mothers who have been left at home to do their brave part—to carry on.

And I am made additionally happy by the fact that in many of our sister Republics of the Americas, in many parts of the great continent of which we are a part, parties and celebrations are being held today to provide needed help to the children in those lands.

For all these reasons I am very sure that this day has not been wasted—that it has been a useful day. For all that you have done, I am very grateful.

For we have all been helpful in lifting some of the clouds of unhappiness and anxiety which have settled down on many of our people. In that realization I am sure we shall have added strength to face the days of trial that lie ahead until peace with victory is assured.

The lives of all of us are now dedicated to working and fighting and, if need be, dying for the cause of a better future—that future that will belong to the little children of our beloved land.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address on the President's Sixtieth Birthday. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210306

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