AUGUST 25, 1942
WASHINGTON, Monday—Reading the galley proof of a book which is soon to come out by Herbert Agar, gave me the courage to think through some vague thoughts which have been floating through my mind these past days.
For long months past, people have written many things which were not particularly pleasant reading about various of our children. That has never troubled me very much, because so far as I am concerned, if you are satisfied within yourself that you have done, as far as you could, what you believed was right, the world's opinion mattered little.
Now, suddenly, over the radio and in the press, they say something good has been done by one of our sons. It was evident to us that about this time, his Marine corps unit under Lieutenant-Colonel Carlson, would be making use of its training. But we knew no more than any other people knew, whose children are "somewhere" at war.
I am glad, of course, that our son acquitted himself well. It would never have ocourred to me that anything else would happen. I am sure that every one of the men whom I saw in that California camp, which I visited before they left, acquitted themselves equally well. I am deeply grateful that our son came through alive, but some men did not, and in the performance of the job they had to do, and which must be done to free the world, other young people of the enemy nations were killed.
Somehow, I cannot free myself of a heavy heart, which must keep companionship with the hearts of other men and women in our own country and in other countries all over the world. With it goes a tremendous sense of the responsibility which must be carried by the older generation for the world we now face.
As things are, the war must be fought to a victorious end. It will not have been worth the courage and the suffering which come to young and old, unless we face now our fundamental failures of the past 25 years. We must want peace, but not be afraid of war because our fear of war made us compromise during these past few years with our principles and our standards. We must bring about economic security, but first we will have to bring about a change in our own moral fibre.
I am not a sentimentalist just using fine phrases, the future requires action and not mere conversation. However, the action must be based on a very clear understanding of what our failures have been in the past years, not only in material things. Perhaps the real failures have been more of character and moral fibre.
If the democracies are to be successful, and the future world is to be built on a firmer foundation, it is important to examine for the moment what kind of people we really are and what are the standards we live by, before we even try to solve the necessary economic questions of the future. Only thus can we justify the sacrfices of youth.