My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

WASHINGTON, Monday—I returned to Washington from Fort Worth, Texas, by plane this morning an hour late. However, I was most grateful, because late yesterday afternoon, the airline called me to say I might find myself waiting over in Nashville, Tennessee. We stopped there for some little time and I was conscious of the delay, and relieved when I finally heard the engines turning over and knew we were starting for Washington.

It was cloudy here, but there was enough ceiling to land. Travelling by airplane these days is extraordinarily interesting, because there is nearly always a quota of pilots aboard returning from having ferried planes to some place. Some of these men are doing a great many hours of flying, more hours than we would have thought constituted real safety in ordinary times.

I wonder if, in our communities, people are aware of the fact that these boys from all over the country, are dropping in and out, delivering planes or picking them up. Sometimes they have a few hours when they can sleep or see a show, or have a real meal at someone's home. Their care doesn't seem to me to fall quite within the range of a USO job, and yet it should be someone's job, because most of these boys are very young and under tremendous strain. There are so many things to be done really to put this country on a wartime footing, that sometimes it seems to me quite appalling how much we have to change our thinking.

We haven't begun yet, for instance, to camouflage our industries in the way it will someday have to be done. Still, I think I see signs in our communities of settling back in the frame of mind where we feel that nothing is actually going to happen.

This is the winter, it is harder to fly long distances. The weather is bad over certain parts of the ocean. We ought to take warning from the fact that even now submarines are doing considerable damage near our coasts, and realize that only by intensive aerial patrol can we really eliminate submarine operations.

The strain on the patrols is terrific. They are entitled to rest in pleasant surroundings, to get home at stated periods, if they have homes to go to, and they should be greeted everywhere with consideration and respect, for their job is the only thing that stands between us and the raids next spring.

In England, the airforce boys have delightful rest camps near their regular operating units. Of course, they have worked under even greater strain because they are going into actual fighting each time they go out, but watching and waiting for a fight is quite a strain, too. Just because we have never been in this kind of war before, is no excuse for the public not to awaken to its new responsibilities.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL