AUGUST 29, 1942
HYDE PARK, Friday—Yesterday morning, Miss Thompson and I, with Captain John McCrae, the President's naval aide, breakfasted early and went over to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to witness the launching of the biggest battleship that the United States has ever built. Battleships of this size must slide down the ways at exactly the right minute, and at 10:36 a.m. exactly, the battleship began to move and Mrs. Henry Wallace, wife of the Vice-President, broke the bottle of champagne on her bow and christened her "Iowa."
It is a wonderful sight to see a big ship take to the water for the first time, particularly in the yard where the men who have built her are standing around with pride shining in their eyes as they see their handiwork completed and a prayer in their hearts for the ship's good fortune at sea.
Yesterday it seemed to me to have an added significance, for all about us were men in uniform in far greater numbers than usual. One could not help thinking of how many boys that ship will hold when it finally sails off to take its place in the great world battle now going on. We know that all branches of the services are equally important, and that they depend on each other and must function as a group to be really successful. A strong Navy is important, but without strong air protection, battleships are far more vulnerable than they were before the advent of the airplane.
The Navy and Air Force may prepare a territory, but a land force must follow to deal the final blows. So, as this great new battleship, a fine addition to our fleet, slid down the ways, I am sure that there was a prayer in all the hearts of the people watching her. The prayer was not just for her success, but for the success of all our forces fighting together, so that before long we might have again a peaceful world.
I had several engagements during the day, and at 5:30 went to a restaurant uptown, where a meeting was held in the interests of the Young Men's Vocational Foundation. Like all other organizations, they are busy trying to raise their yearly budget, so that they can devote their time to their work and take care of the necessary salaries and office expenses. I think it was a most successful meeting and I particularly enjoyed hearing members of the staff tell stories of some of the boys for whom the organization exists.
This morning, Miss Thompson and I came up by train to Hyde Park, and it was a joy to find three healthy, happy children awaiting us.