Geneva Daily Times Monday, June 21, 1943
LOCAL USO BUILDING FORMALLY DEDICATED
Impressive Ceremony On Saturday Evening Marked the Occasion . Building, Formerly Methodist Church, Later a Garage, Splendidly equipped and Well Adapted for Purpose for which it is to be Used - Large Crowd Present at Dedication.
Keys to the Federal Recreation Building here were formally turned over to the United Service Organizations at impressive dedication ceremonies Saturday night. The value of morale of the nation's fighting forces and the part the USO is playing in maintaining it was stressed and praised by speakers.
"I have never found in any community so wholehearted a response to a need as in Geneva," L. L. Bennett, assistant regional director, Federal Security Agency, Office of Community War Services, declared, transferring both the keys and the responsibility for "wholesome and healthful recreation for men of the armed services," to the Geneva USO Council.
In accepting, Julian H. Salomon, associate regional executive of the United Service Organizations, asserted that the USO has kept pace with the growth of the armed forces and that its contribution is of outstanding importance and value to the fighting men. He also commended the Geneva USO Council for its outstanding accomplishments to date.
"In a sense it is not the USO that is accepting this responsibility," Mr. Salomon declared, "but rather the people of Geneva because the USO comes to Geneva only to help in doing the job we all want to do for our fighting men while they are in this community.
"The USO was organized to serve the social and spiritual needs of men in the armed forces and the men in back as production workers. The USO experiment is without precedent in this country. It is entirely new. Never before have six great national organizations representing the three major creeds banded together for service. The USO could never happen anywhere but in America for the spirit of working together is the American spirit."
R. W. Cammack, field recreation representative of the Federal Security Administration, praised the work of Dr. R. E. Cole, chairman of Geneva War Recreation Committee, and H. E. Hovey, chairman of the Geneva USO council. Dr. Cole and Mr. Hovey were co-chairmen in presiding over the dedication ceremonies.
Dr. Cole said that the acceptance of the USO building also carried with it the hope that after the war it would become a civic recreation center for Geneva.
In his welcoming speech, Mayor C. F. Nieder said:
Mayor's Welcoming Speech"Mr. Chairman, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
"I am deeply appreciative of the privilege and honor conferred upon me on this historic occasion for Geneva, and in behalf of the people of the City of Geneva I extend to the United Service Organization a hearty and sincere welcome to Geneva.
"The opening of this new unit in a chain of U.S.O. establishments throughout the country gives to Geneva a modern sequel to its historic background, and the U.S.O. may feel assured that the people not only of Geneva but also of the surrounding territory are ready at all times to extend all the aid and cooperation in your work that may be necessary to fulfill the worthy ideals of your existence.
"Our Army, Navy and other branches since December 7, 1941, have grown tremendously. Our men are stationed on more than 60 fighting fronts of the world. Our ships are in every sea. Our planes fly above every continent. In less than 18 months we have achieved the high point reached by Germany and Japan only after 20 years or more of preparation. The steady and rapid growth of the U.S.O. has kept stride with these accomplishments. Your contribution to America's victory drive has been and will continue to be of outstanding importance. We cannot overestimate the value of morale to our fighting men. And to my mind your work is one of the most effective means yet found to build up in our men, at home and in foreign lands, a wholesome, united and fighting spirit.
"Your work in providing various types of entertainment gives to our men an opportunity for good fellowship and in addition serves to inspire them to give themselves wholeheartedly to a great cause. We need weapons for morale as effective as the General Sherman and the P-38. This weapon is making its appearance today from coast to coast and in foreign lands. Again I refer to the U.S.O.
"Because of the wonderful work you are doing not only in this community but in your entire field of endeavor, I take this opportunity in behalf of the City of Geneva to again extend to you our cordial welcome and commend you for your outstanding accomplishments and wish you Godspeed."
Bishop Kearney's Address
The spiritual influence of the USO was noted by the Most Rev. James E. Kearney, Bishop of Rochester, who declared that the words "Lead Us Not Into Temptation" from the Lord's Prayer were most often in the minds of the men in the army and navy camps.
"Unfortunately," he declared, "there are always those ready to prey on the men in service and lead them into temptation. The U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy are greatly concerned about the character of their men because they know a man's usefulness on the field of battle is impaired if he had not a fundamentally good character. The USO is doing what the God who is so near to our boys would want us to do.
"The USO is trying to give the boys an atmosphere similar to what they left in their own homes. Each of you people in Geneva who helps, is acting as a father and a mother to these boys away from home. The USO is not just a project or a recreation center, it is a great vocation. It is one of the greatest things ever undertaken. The blessings of God upon every one of you who take an interest in this house and its work."
Speaking for the Army, Capt. Eugene B. Sanger, of the Seneca Ordnance Depot, brought the regrets of his chief, Col. Arthur E. Elliott, commanding officer of the depot, at being unable to be present.
Capt. Sanger declared that the USO organization fills a great need in these days of all out warfare. "The USO was created in the true American spirit," he said. "It is for men of all colors and creeds and of all the United Nations."
The Navy's appreciation for the USO and its work here was expressed by Capt. Harry A. Badt, commandant of the U.S. Naval Training Station at Sampson. He said:
Capt. Badt Speaks for Navy"Dr. Cole, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
"It is a pleasure for me to be here tonight at the Dedication of the Geneva USO Club.
"As Commandant of the Naval Training Station, I know the full value of the work that is being done here - and I know how much it means to the men of Sampson.
"It has been said that the first fifty years are the hardest for a newly married couple. In the Navy... it's the first few months that are the most difficult for a new recruit.
"The average recruit in training at Sampson is a young man. He is from a small town - and has lived all his life at home with his father and mother ... and perhaps a brother and a sister or two.
"When he comes to Sampson, he suddenly finds himself intimately associated with thousands of men. He is in a company of more than a hundred men, with whom he eats and sleeps - and works - and plays - and studies - twenty-four hours a day.
"This sudden transition from civilian life to naval life requires a sharp mental readjustment. To help him make this readjustment...speedily and successfully...we, at Sampson, place great emphasis on his physical...mental...and spiritual well- being.
"But that alone would not be enough. Supplementing our work - but no less important - is the work that you of the United Service Organizations are doing here in Geneva.
"Just a few days ago ... one of our recruits - William Hale, of Company 584 - stepped to the door of the USO Club ... and found that he was the one-hundred-thousandth service-man to visit the Geneva USO.
"I am told that he was treated royally - and was given everything he wanted - without cost - to mark the event.
That in itself is not important - what is important is the fact that there were ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine other visits during the few months that this Club has been in operation.
"This figure indicates to me that a large percentage of the men of Sampson, who have come to Geneva, have spent many of their liberty hours in the wholesome atmosphere of this fine and well- supervised Club. I feel sure that the number of visits will reach the two hundred thousand mark within a few months.
"When a new recruit arrives at Sampson, he is issued two pairs of new shoes. After two months of drilling... and walking - many miles around the station ... the young man may need a new pair of shoes for that long-awaited evening at the USO, and those dances with your attractive girls. He does not have to worry about 'ration coupon 17,' (or 18) but - the girls do.
I do not have statistics on the number of miles that USO hostesses have danced with bluejackets, but I am sure that it is enough to warrant giving them additional shoe ration coupons.
"I can think of no stronger testimonial - no more effective praise - for the work which is being done here - than the fact that the men themselves have taken advantage of Geneva USO facilities so often.
"To this testimonial of the men of Sampson - let me add my personal congratulations and thanks for the work which you are doing.
"Under the leadership of Mr. Harry E. Hovey as chairman of the USO Council and Dr. Robert Cole as chairman of the War Recreation Committee, you people of Geneva are making a valuable contribution to the war effort.
"You are sacrificing your leisure time ... so that men in uniform may enjoy their leisure time.
"For this, upon behalf of the officers at Sampson, let me thank you - and say 'Well Done'."
The enlisted man's gratitude for the Geneva USO was tendered by Robert Teter, Sp. (M)