Did you ever notice that when anything is given to a little
child, his first thought is to put it into his mouth as fast as he can? When
he is a few years older, he is ready to share his good things with his
family, and after a while he likes to think that his city or state or his
whole country is faring well. Some day perhaps, we shall learn to think of
the whole world as one great family, and we shall be glad if we can help
even a little in bringing it about that every one has his fair share of the
good things of life. That is the deeper meaning of the Food Administration.
Its present work is to feed hungry nations, but the meaning of the work is
the "brotherhood of man."
The Food Administration can only "press the button;" we, the people
of the United States, must "do the rest." Germany marched forward with a
chip on her shoulder and a challenge to knock it off if we could. The "chip"
was a "dare" to keep the Allies from starving, and we helped to do it. Wars
used to be won chiefly by bullets, but this war was won by bullets and work
and bread. We were obliged to have enormous armies and great factories and
food for millions; but after all, it was the little group of one that
brought success. One man fired one gun, one man helped make munitions, one
man cultivated the ground; that is the way the mighty armies, the great
throngs of factory workers, and the countless bands of farmers were formed.
We shall never get far beyond the verse that little children sing:
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
We could not make a "mighty ocean," but we did help to make
the ocean mighty in its freedom for all mankind. We could not make a
"pleasant land," but we helped to make all lands pleasant by driving away
the robber hordes that sought destruction and ruin.
With the conquered nations we must deal wisely and justly, aiming
at what will be for the highest good of the world. We must do our best to
help feed and reconstruct the countries that have suffered because of the
It is only by "a long pull and a strong pull and a pull all
together" that we can do these things. You know the game called the "tug of
war," in which half the boys pull at one end of a rope and half at the
other. There is no chance for any one in the middle; every-body must pull
one way or the other. That is the way it is now; everybody in America is
pulling in one way or the other, either to help the country or to hinder
her. Not every one can buy Government bonds or many thrift stamps, but
faithful work is just as helpful as money. Not long ago a newsboy carelessly
neglected to deliver a paper. The subscriber telephoned to the office; the
clerk reported the matter to the head of the delivery department; the head
of the delivery department sent another boy by the electric car to deliver
the paper. It was quite like "the house that Jack built," and it took the
time of the subscriber, the telephone operator, the clerk, the head of the
delivery department, and the second boy, and cost two carfares —just because
one boy was not faithful. Time and faithfulness are all fully as valuable in
this period of constructing the world anew as they were in the days of
barrage fire and machine guns.
Did you ever realize what an honor it is to be asked to work for
our country? A little child is always pleased if he can feel that he is
doing something to help his father or mother. Even a little dog will try his
best to understand what his master wants and is delighted if he can do it.
Here is a mighty country—wide-spreading, prosperous, and powerful—and she
says to every man and woman and to every child, "Will you do something for
me?" Now what can every little group of one do for the country? The Food
Administration has shown us some ways in which we can help. We know that
every garden helps to produce food to make up for that which has been
destroyed or prevented from growing. We know that we ought not to waste even
a mouthful of food. On the wartime bill of fare of a luxurious hotel there
was printed, "Help us to observe the Gospel of the Clean Plate; please order
only what you will eat."
We need this motto just as much now. We must content ourselves with
simpler ways of living, and so save not only food, but also gas and coal and
time and labor.
Transportation can be saved. If every family could raise all that
it eats, the railroads would be immensely relieved. A garden saves
transportation, so does buying food from the nearest farmer. So does
shopping in your own town or even village instead of going to the nearest
large city. Save express and mail. Save man power and the expense of
carrying goods from the grocery or market to the house. Our grandmothers, if
they happened to live in the country, would have thought it wonderfully
convenient if a delivery wagon had called at their doors once a week. But
now! "Some people order one-fourth of a dozen cookies in the morning and a
yeast cake in the afternoon," said a grocer. To have no deliveries would be
exceedingly wasteful, because it would take the time of hundreds of
customers rather than of one or two delivery men; but we can reduce their
work by carrying packages home, by never ordering more than once a day, or,
even better, once or twice a week, and by trying never to order anything but
perishable food just before a Sunday or a holiday. Grocers usually have to
employ extra help at such times, and a bit of thoughtfulness on the part of
the customers would make this unnecessary.
During the last few years boys here at home have had such chances
as boys never had before, because places left vacant by men were given to
them. They received high wages, and they had splendid opportunities to rise.
But did you ever watch them in working hours? Some of them thought they were
big folk just because they had dropped into big places. Others were trying
their best to fill the big places. You could almost see at a glance which
ones would rise in the world and which ones would never hold such high
The verses about the hungry little French baby who couldn't be the
"hope of France," because he couldn't "get enough food to have a chance,"
end as follows:
I wish I had a father. If I couldn't have that, then I
wish some other babies' fathers would give me a place to stay—
A warm, light place, with persons in it while the Person in Skirts is
gone all day.
And maybe they'd give me some food that wasn't as bad as grass tea.
Do you think, if their babies have plenty and some left over, the other
babies' fathers would do that for me?
This is what we are trying to do; to feed the children and
the grown folks, to help the nations that are at last set free from tyranny
and cruelty, and to make the world safe and happy for them and for us.
"I don't believe you know what `U.S.' means," some one once said
teasingly to a very small American boy. The little fellow drew himself up to
his full height, looked the man in the eye, and said, "`U.S.' means us." We
are a firmly united people, striving for the right. We have a big piece of
work on hand, but "`U.S.' means us," and with the help of God we will carry