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Wednesday Afternoon Session - page 39 / 67





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I now call for the report of the Committee on Organized Public Support.  I am sorry, Mr. Williams, that you were not able to be with us Tuesday, when I introduced you in absentia.  It was a good introduction, and I hope you look it up when you get the transcript.  [Laughter.]

I present Mr. W. Walter Williams, first citizen of the State of Washington and chairman of the committee.  Mr. Williams.  [Applause.]

Mr. W. Walter Williams.  General Fleming, distinguished guests, and members of the President’s Conference.  I wonder if you have not been impressed, as I have been impressed, during these days of the Conference with the very gracious and generous manner in which the General has introduced the various speakers.  It suggests to me an incident that transpired in Cincinnati last fall when former Governor, now Senator, John Bricker was being presented to a large audience at the closing session of a convention that I was attending there.  The man who was introducing him left absolutely nothing to chance; he took nothing for granted.  He had prepared this introduction with a full sheet of typewritten information single-spaced.  As he read on, line after line, he just built halo after halo about the head of John Bricker.  At long last he concluded, and when John Bricker arose to his feet he stood before the microphone for a moment or two, had an almost angelic expression on his face, then said, “That introduction makes me feel like a lifelong Christian holding four aces.”  [Laughter.]

I rather think that our Chairman has done a job of making all of us feel a good deal like lifelong Christian holding four aces, and I wonder, inasmuch as we are rapidly coming to the conclusion of this Conference, if turnabout would not be fair play, and it would therefore be in order for us to pause just a moment to give this fellow who has been presiding over this Conference a little round of applause in appreciation.  [Applause.]

I knew you would feel that way about it.

You have heard a series of very interesting talks during this Conference.  Those talks have been given by Government officials, including the very highest of our Government officials, the President of the United States.  They have included jurists; they have included businessmen; they have included representatives of the firefighting forces; they have included educators; they have included one charming and, according to the Chairman – and I am sure all of us will agree – young lady.  In a word, we have had a cross section of the American public represented in the addresses which have been presented to us at this Conference, and all the way through, the thread has been these two points: (1) America is experiencing appalling losses in life and property because of fire; and (2) we ought to do something about it.

We have been listening to these fine addresses – and you will agree that they have been fine addresses – but now we have come to that part of the Conference where we have to do something about it.  In a word, we are at the point where we have to take action.

The General referred yesterday to the fact that Mark Twain had pointed out the importance of brevity.  Yes, and Mark Twain also indicated that many people talked about the weather, but very few did anything about it.

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