SEPTEMBER 23, 1941
WASHINGTON, Monday—This morning, I dashed into a building which before long, will house the office of Director La Guardia's Civilian Defense Committee. I was quite astounded to find how quickly the moving had been done. Over the weekend, desks, files and bundles of every kind had been picked up from one office and moved to another.
People were actually at work, but I am afraid many of them will be shifted about before they reach their permanent places. I confess I found it hard to visualize doing any kind of work in that rather confused atmosphere, but I saw some people who looked as if they were accomplishing something. I simply looked at the rooms in which I am going to be housed, decided on the place for desks and telephones, and went out as quickly as possible.
Mrs. DeForest Van Slyke, Miss Wilma Shields, Miss Eloise Davison, Miss Thompson and I had lunch together to discuss certain points in our program. The Civilian Defense Volunteer offices are, of course, the first step toward organizing any community, and this responsibility falls largely on Mrs. Van Slyke and Miss Shields.
We are getting all we can out of Mrs. Van Slyke as a consultant, because she is not able to spend every day with us, since her family lives in New York City. Instead, she has left us Miss Shields, and I feel sure that Miss Davison and I shall find her a very great help.
I saw a very amusing item in the paper the other day. An Italian paper in Turin, is quoted as saying that our efforts to make military life pleasant and attractive is producing an army of "mama's boys." It seems to me they have short memories in Turin. They forget that some twenty odd years ago, another generation of "mama's boys" came over to Europe and fought with them on the same side, and at that time they were hailed as among the toughest fighters anywhere along the line, which is not always the reputation of the Italian boys.
The paper went on to say that the mothers of this new generation, which has suddenly changed its characteristics, felt that their sons were conscripted in a lost cause. Lost causes have always been the best challenge to the U.S.A. They are the causes in which we usually achieve our greatest successes.
I happen to have liked the Italy which I once knew as a country, and I like the people even more. Here, in this country, there are many, many Italians who may be found among these, "mama's boys." They will be none the worse as soldiers of the U.S. because they love their mothers and are lonely away from home. I have always hoped we never again would have to fight any other nation in the world. If we do, however, I have complete confidence in the fighting spirit and ability to win of our "mama's boys."