DECEMBER 17, 1941
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—In returning to Washington yesterday afternoon, I called Mrs. Morgenthau and some of her assistants in the Office of Civilian Defense, to learn what had happened while Mayor La Guardia and I were on the West Coast.
Then I considered some of the difficulties now arising. There have been conflicting directions as to what people should do in case of air raids. The reason is that there are quite a number of people, who have no official sanction whatsoever, are giving advice and directions about a number of things.
In addition, there has been conflict in the minds of people actually in charge of developing programs. However, much of the confusion is being cleared up, as it always is. Actual experience on the West Coast has helped.
Up to last Sunday, it was almost impossible to accomplish any real work with state and local defense councils, which were often nonexistent, or existent only on paper. Frequently, people who wanted to work, were given no money by state or local governments with which to do so. Volunteers did not materialize in such great numbers until a real war was upon us. Now there is cooperation everywhere.
Even with that cooperation, it is going to be necessary, to work out certain plans in the light of experience. No one should be surprised if there is a certain amount of change that develops in the handling of different situations. The organization for actual defense, even where civilians are concerned, is primarily under army control. However, in many cases, the welfare of the people of the community, which is also part of defense, is closely tied up with the actual protective organization.
Mayor La Guardia has succeeded in establishing a pattern for the work of the police and fire departments, and this is functioning very smoothly everywhere on the West Coast. The other community needs must be met through the cooperation of a great many agencies. These are gradually drawing together more closely and cooperating on every level. I think it eventually will lead to a stronger community organization than we have ever had before in our country.
It will be easy to criticize many things in the coming weeks. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and if, as time goes on, communities find themselves better able to work together for the common good, civilian defense will have accomplished much of the purpose for which it was organized.