Remarks at Dedication of Red Cross Chapter House for the District of Columbia.
Mr. Folger, ladies and gentlemen:
This morning, as the time drew near for me to come over to this dedicatory ceremony, a very efficient staff officer undertook to give me the accustomed briefing. I have been plied with facts about this building, the number of activities that will take place within it, about the character of the blood donor campaign in Washington, your great and admirable degree of participation in Red Cross work.
Obviously, he thought I should tall about these things. But I have the prerogative of disregarding advice, which I seem often to do, and I decided that each of you workers knew more about such things and these statistics than did I, and it would add very little to your education, and certainly nothing to your entertainment for me to repeat them.
Rather, I decided, in the minute or two that I should like to impose on you this morning, to resume the effort that I have been making now for 11 years. For me it is a frustrating effort. It has been an effort to try to explain to the Red Cross, whenever I have met with any body of its representatives, what it means to me, and how deep is the sense of appreciation during those 11 years I have felt toward it.
I once participated in another dedication of a Red Cross building. It was in early June in London, England, 1942, and it was my first real war contact of that war with the Red Cross. It was a building far different from this one--partly bomb-riddled. But there, as I saw those people mobilizing to do their part in the war, to care for the wounded in the hospitals, to look after the sick, to look after the correspondence of those who couldn't do it, to run clubs of entertainment, to adhere to the slogan they had, "A home away from home," and the service of the Red Cross employees, including being a companion to some lonely soldiers as they went to the early movies of those days, or things as menial as scrubbing floors--from that time on as I have followed them, and they have gone along with the armies in the field, I have been trying to tell the Red Cross what they mean to me. As I say, I have never succeeded. I doubt that I ever shall.
But this morning, one idea I would like to express is a simple one. We have many examples nowadays of man's selfishness, man's brutality and inhumanity to man, man's readiness to forget the golden rule and to live by some standard that he thinks will immediately advantage him at the expense of his fellows. We have this in the international field; we have it far too often and discouragingly among groups or classes at home. The Red Cross, the nature of its slogan, of its purposes, the work that has been done through it, and the people that belong to it, bring to us, as we tend to greater discouragement about such things, realization that man is also made of nobler qualities than these of selfishness and greed and personal advantage. He is made up also of sacrifice, of neighborliness, of love for fellow humans.
It seems to me that the Red Cross personifies, as nearly as any organization of which I can think, those great and noble virtues of man that are the richest heritage from the Almighty.
I thank you very much for the honor of being invited to participate in the dedication of this building to that kind of purpose.
Note: The President spoke at 12:10 p.m. His opening words referred to John C. Folger, Chairman of the District of Columbia Chapter of the American National Red Cross.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at Dedication of Red Cross Chapter House for the District of Columbia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232095