Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Radio Appeal for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

January 29, 1944

Tonight, on behalf of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, I wish to express heartfelt thanks to all of you who have contributed your dimes and your dollars to further the fight against a cruel disease- a disease which strikes primarily against little children.

The generous participation of the American people in this fight is a sign of the healthy condition of our Nation. It is democracy in action. The unity of our people in helping those who are disabled, in protecting the welfare of our young, in preserving the eternal principle of kindliness—all of this is evidence of our fundamental strength—the strength with which we are meeting our enemies throughout the world.

Early in our history, we realized that the basic wealth of our land is in its healthy, enlightened children, trained to assume the responsibilities and enjoy the privileges of a democracy. The well-being of our youth is indeed our foremost concern—their health and happiness our enduring responsibility. If any become handicapped from any cause, we are determined that they shall be properly cared for and guided to full and useful lives.

How different it is in the lands of our enemies! In Germany and Japan, those who are handicapped in body or mind are regarded as unnecessary burdens to the state. There, an individual's usefulness is measured solely by the direct contribution that he can make to the war machine- not by his service to a society at peace.

The dread disease that we battle at home, like the enemy we oppose abroad, shows no concern, no pity for the young. It strikes —with its most frequent and devastating force—against children. And that is why much of the future strength of America depends upon the success that we achieve in combating this disease.

The dollars and dimes you contribute are the victory bonds that buy the ammunition for this fight against disease—just as the war bonds you purchase help to finance the fight against tyranny.

Tonight, I am happy to receive the report that your generous aid has made possible another year of progress against this dread malady. We are prepared to fight it with the planned strategy of a military campaign- not only because the enemy is a merciless and insidious one, but because the danger of epidemic in wartime makes this fight an actual military necessity.

The tireless men and women working night and day over test tubes and microscopes—searching for drugs and serums, for methods that will prevent and cure- these are the workers on the production line in this war against disease. The gallant chapter workers, the doctors and nurses in our hospitals, the public health officials, the volunteers who go into epidemic areas to help the physician- these are the front-line fighters.

And just as in war—there is that subtle weapon that, more than anything else, spells victory or defeat. That weapon is morale- the morale of a people who know that they are fighting "the good fight"—that they are keeping the faith—the only faith through which civilization can survive—the faith that man must live to help and not to destroy his fellowmen.

We are engaged now in the Fourth War Bond campaign. The outpouring of American dollars in this campaign will assure that superiority of fighting equipment with which we shall blast our way to Berlin and Tokyo. It will also serve notice that we Americans are irrevocably united in determination to end this war as quickly as possible in the unconditional surrender of our enemies. Every one of us has a chance too to participate in victory by buying war bonds.

Tonight, in the midst of a terrible war against tyranny and savagery, it is not easy for us to celebrate. There cannot be much happiness in our hearts as we contemplate the kind of enemies we face and the very grimness of the task that lies before us.

But, we may thank God that here in our country we are keeping alive the spirit of good will toward one another—that spirit which is the very essence of the cause for which we fight. God speed the spirit of good will.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Appeal for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209848

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