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FDR Extemporaneous Thanksgiving Day Remarks at Warm Springs, Nov. 28, 1935

Informal Extemporaneous Remarks of the President at the Annual

Thanksgiving Dinner Held at Georgia Hall Warm Springs Foundation, Warm Springs, Georgia November 28, 1935, 9 P.M.

(The President spoke following the presentation of the portrait of Dr. Hubbard.)

Members of the Warm Springs family: This is a great surprise to all of us, I think, except the Committee themselves, and I know that I can speak not only for the old-timers, but for the young-timers, in saying that we, the members of the Warm Springs family, are made very happy in having with us for all time this portrait of our beloved Dr. Hubbard.

It has been custom, I think at former diners, to go back – I have a guilty feeling myself – and tell many anecdotes of former years. I am not going to talk about the past tonight except to say that I am awfully glad that there are so many of the original family still with us. May they always come to these annual parties!

We know that many new things have happened. We are sorry that some of the old customs, such as midnight bathing in the fountain, seem to have been discontinued. But there are lots of new things that have happened. We have the Marines with us and we have lots of fine, new faces and, most important of all, we have started grand opera at Warm Springs. (Applause)

I want to say, tonight, just a word about the present and the future. As you know, our work, year by year, is spreading – spreading all over the country. This past year we have gone into almost every community of the land and because of a certain Birthday Party that was held last January the good people of this country contributed over a million dollars to the cause of fighting infantile paralysis. It was a fine thing that people did in all of those communities and I think that we should make it very clear that the million dollars, not one penny of it, came to us here at Warm Springs.

Seventy per cent of it, seven hundred thousand dollars, have been used and is being used today to help young people and middle-aged people and old people in getting well in their own respective communities in every State of the Union. And, equally important I think, the other thirty percent of that splendid gift has been distributed by a very distinguished committee of doctors to be used in a dozen different places in research work to find out, for the benefit of future generations, how best we can stop in our country the spread of these epidemics that are almost annual occurrences.

One of the members of this Committee mentioned to me the other day, at the White House, that for the first time, so far as he knew, in all medical history, research into one definite known problem is adequately financed and every person, every scientist, who is engaged in this research work has been able to come to this Committee and the Warm Springs Foundation and be given sufficient funds to carry on the work that he is doing.

That is why I feel very happy about the contribution that the Foundation has made and is making to extending our work and fighting one of our most serious epidemic forms of disease in every part of the country.

As to our own problems here, I think you probably know more about them than I do. All I can tell you is that as I come back year after year, unfortunately only once a year nowadays, I find that more improvements have been made and this year is not exception.

I can assure you that the Trustees, and most of them, I am glad to say, are here tonight, that the Trustees are meeting often, are giving their time and their thought to the program for the future years here at Warm Springs. That is why I am very confident that, in addition to the work we are doing now, as the years go by we are going to do even more important work, not only here but everywhere in this country and, may I say, in Canada too.

There are some new things that I have noticed – one or two new milestones in our history. For example, the day before yesterday – the Press cannot use this – a very important landmark is going down in our chronicles: We got down to the pool the other day after almost everybody else had left and we caught Dr. Mike Hoke taking his first bath. (Applause, laughter)

So now we know that he is properly baptized.

I am glad I am going to be with you another ten days. This has been a very wonderful trip and a very wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for me. I want to thank, in behalf of all of us, the good ladies headed by Mrs. Hoke who have made the decorations of this room so very delightful tonight. This is a real family party. It still breathes a certain something which newcomers do not quite understand until they have been here for a week or two – but it gets them all – the old spirit of Warm Springs. (Applause)

And now, in accordance with a very old custom, I am going to stand by the door because I want to shake hands with you as you go out.

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