Energy and skill we can “ill afford to lose”

April 18, 2011
Jessica DuLong profile photo
Jessica DuLong

At nine o’clock on Sunday morning, I was dashing down a hallway at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home in Hyde Park, NY on my way to deliver a lecture for SUNY’s Empire State College when a painting on the wall stopped me in my tracks.

Art of New Deal

Alden Krider, NYA artist, 1936

“Art of the New Deal” celebrates the work of the National Youth Administration, a New Deal agency that provided education, training, and jobs to young people. NYA artist Alden Krider created the painting for an agency exhibit at the 1936 Kansas State Fair.

The quote at the top says it all:

“We can ill afford to lose the energy and skill of these young men and women.” —FDR

Given the subject of my talk—rekindling respect for hands-on work—I could imagine no more fitting pause in my pre-lecture scramble than before this painting—this piece of American history.

When will we have a leader willing to create and nurture such a powerful program that will benefit not only the youth of today, but our country as a whole?