Harry S. Truman photo

Radio Remarks on Behalf of the March of Dimes Campaign.

January 30, 1946

[ Broadcast from the White House at 11:55 p.m.. ]

Fellow Americans:

Tonight would have been the 64th birthday of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In a life dedicated to his fellow man, the fight against infantile paralysis was only one which he waged for the welfare of humanity.

Someday there will be written the full story of what Franklin Roosevelt gave to others. Someday there will be a deeper, fuller appreciation of his infinite sympathy for the man who had less--less strength-less chance--less health.

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which he founded in 1938, is a living monument to his interest in mankind. It is a symbol of his sacrifice and courage. It has become a living tradition.

The fight to conquer infantile paralysis is an unfinished task of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It must, and shall be carried to complete victory.

I am happy to be able to lend my support to this cause, and I am glad to do it also because of my conviction that the health of the people is the direct concern of the Government.

Our country is not merely the sum of its parts. It is not the total of its resources, the aggregate of its wealth. Our country much more than the complement of all States and boundaries, our cities and our farms- It is the sum of its culture, its heritage, its traditions. It is the sum of its strength, its vigor, and its spirit.

The interests of our Nation are weakened, the objectives we seek are delayed so long as the unsolved mysteries of diseases such as infantile paralysis remain a challenge to our welfare.

We have concluded a war to repel a threat to our civilization. It was a war that disrupted our lives. But it also gave us new perspectives and new values.

One of these was a sharp recognition that health is a public responsibility. The activities of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis are a valid and important effort in the direction of sound health for the Nation.

If we fail to recognize the inherent danger of this disease we overlook a threat to the people of the United States. To unite against it is to provide for ourselves and our children the insurance of a brighter future in which to enjoy the fulfillment of the rich and generous life for which we fought.

Tonight we face a new world. Our techniques have multiplied, our powers have widened. New patterns of valuation and new loyalties come crowding upon us. We are a free people. The world draws near to us, and out of the agony of war we have emerged with new understanding, and with a basic reverence for the right of men to be free. But the freedoms for which we fought are only opportunities--the opportunities to live useful and happy lives.

Health is no guarantee of freedom, but without it no people can really be free. Our way of life demands that we fight against any foe that threatens our freedom.

Infantile paralysis is such a foe. We are fighting it. We have declared total war against it. Through the efforts of the National Foundation, we are carrying on a nationwide campaign to destroy it.

Our foe, however, is a formidable enemy that does not hesitate to make attacks against which we cannot as yet plan. We must, therefore, be constantly armed against infantile paralysis. We must drill our citizens in the methods of combatting it. For without the help of the entire Nation, complete victory is impossible.

The fight against infantile paralysis cannot be a local war. It must be nationwide. It must be total war in every city, town, and village throughout the land. For only with a united front can we ever hope to win any war.

Wars are expensive. This one will be, too. But the thousands of victims claimed each year by infantile paralysis justify the cost. Americans do not measure human life and happiness in terms of dollars.

I am confident of the eventual outcome of this fight against infantile paralysis. I look forward to the day when we shall have a decisive victory over this disease. That's what Franklin Roosevelt wanted. To join in the March of Dimes is to expedite that conquest.

Our problems of Government are chiefly the conflicts of growth and change. They are the ebb and flow of national existence. But despite these, we move toward tomorrow with the conviction that the spirit of our Nation is best expressed in the improving standard of American life.

By joining the March of Dimes you share in the betterment of our civilization; a civilization that will one day insure a healthier, happier world for all mankind!

Harry S. Truman, Radio Remarks on Behalf of the March of Dimes Campaign. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232301

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