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Wednesday Afternoon Session - page 40 / 67





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We are at the point where we have to do something about this thing about which we have been talking and listening for the last two or three days.  I think at one and the same time we have a grave responsibility, and a shining opportunity.  Who, if not you, who, if not the group represented right here in this room now, would undertake the job or could undertake the job to do it successfully?

At the same time that we have a grave responsibility to discharge to the public, we also have a shining opportunity, because, as we listen to the mounting figures of death and property losses measured in terms of dollars, think of the tremendous opportunity we have for positive achievement to the degree that we can succeed in the program that we are undertaking.

I should like to call upon the members of this Conference to accept, if you please, as a byword, as a watchword, of the Conference, the words that were included in a citation that was given to a young Jewish scientist by the United States Government recently.  This young Jewish scientist was a member of the Manhattan Project.  The details have not been released by the Government, but sufficient information was given out to tell us that somebody committed a very grave error, and lives were put in jeopardy because of the fact that this error had been committed.  This young Jewish scientist, drawing, I suppose, on something that had been inculcated into his character from away back when, acted and as a result of his action he took the full force of the radioactive particles.  But because of the fact that he took them, nobody else was injured.

He died, and, therefore, he gave his life in expression of practical service to his fellow men.  The citation read, “He took affirmative action,” and I can think of nothing better, Mr. Chairman, growing out of this Conference and the deliberations of these two or three days than for each one of us to resolve that he will accept as his slogan, if you please, and as his guide, as we leave this Conference hall and go back to our respective homes, these words, “I will take affirmative action,” in trying to carry out the purposes of this Conference.

I am going to read only a portion of the Committee’s recommendations, because I think that copies have found their way into the hands of most of you.  But without reading the subheads, I think it is important for us at least to have brought to our attention at this time the four main heads.  Let me read them to you briefly:


It is recommend that a continuing committee be appointed by the General Chairman in order to implement the action program of the President’s Conference; provide a gage on progress made in States, cities, and rural communities throughout the country in the months following the Conference; and maintain the interest in fire prevention on the part of the large number of important national, nongovernmental groups represented on the Committee on Organized Public Support, as well as the general public.


It is recommend that each of the Governors of the 48 States, the Governors of the Territories, and the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, appoint Statewide fire-safety committees composed of the appropriate public officials, including State

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