MAY 6, 1943
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Late yesterday afternoon I spoke at one of the meetings of a group of members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who are now in Washington. With their friends, they filled the hall at the YMCA.
I was glad to have this opportunity to tell them something of my trip to Great Britain. It was particularly gratifying to find that many of those who had been in Great Britain on missions with the armed forces, seemed to have similar impressions and to agree with my conclusions.
Before leaving for the meeting, I had tea with the President and Madame Chiang and reached home again in time to greet our few dinner guests. Among them were some newspaper men from Australia on their way to Great Britain.
After dinner, two short Australian films were shown—one the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, in which Australian and American fliers took part and set such a remarkable record for air attack on naval forces. The other was a picture of the fighting in New Guinea, and the help which the natives have given the soldiers, both Americans and Australians.
It is the natives who act as stretcher bearers and carry the wounded over rough paths for six days to the nearest hospital at Port Moresby. When the rain comes, it seems to come in sheets and they must be soaked through. In fact, I can think of nothing more trying than this trip for wounded men. It must be agonizing for them, but they speak with praise of the gentleness of the native bearers and the kindness with which they treat them.
One thing stood out in both of the pictures, and that was the cooperation and comradeship which has grown up between the Australian and American boys. They "kid" each other apparently, and that is a good sign. When they are serious, they show real respect for the fighting qualities of the other fellow.
There has just come to my desk a plan which was originated and started by the Kiwanis Club of Bethlehem, Pa., some years ago. They call it the Junior Councillors Bethlehem Plan. I understand that the National Council of Women is hoping to spread it throughout the nation in the fight against juvenile delinquency and as a successful way of interesting the "teenage" group in the war effort.
They are making a drive for funds at the present time. I think that those who are in touch with this "teenage" group problem will be anxious to help in this undertaking. The plan, I think, requires a careful choice of sponsors and good leadership in each community, but it has great possibilities. If it can awaken a sense of responsibility in this age group, which has so often felt that it had no part in the functioning of democracy, it will be a good preparation for responsible adult citizenship.