JUNE 30, 1943
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—In my travels the other day I found myself seated next to a man who was on his way to the induction camp. He was no youngster and so I inquired how he came to be going into the Army. He told me he was a bricklayer by trade, had done some building in Washington and in various other parts of the country. Some one representing the Army Engineers had come to his union and asked for volunteers, so he had presented himself for voluntary induction and expected to go to camp in Louisiana to become one of our Army builders, who have made such a record for themselves all through Africa and in the southwest Pacific.
The Navy has a similar group, the Seabees, who build shore establishments all over the world.
My neighbor on the train is thirty-six years old, and has two children, thirteen and fifteen. His wife has a good job, and although she was very angry with him for volunteering, he said he felt it was his duty. This man, who had been his own master for many years, said, "I guess I'll have to learn to do as I am told, but they say if you do that, you do not get into much trouble."
I have often praised the spirit of youth as it goes out to meet adventure. But today I would like to say a word for those who are a little older, who are already started in work which they enjoy, and which perhaps is useful in the civilian life of the country, but who still feel that it is their job to be where danger is a little closer to them. I know a good many of these men. It may not fall to their lot to do the heroic things which bring medals, but they are the stuff which America develops, and they are the men who will come back to be the responsible citizens of the future.
I was talking to a young officer the other day who feels very strongly that a democratic army must have something which is above and beyond that which makes just a good army. You can be a good soldier and yet not be a good citizen of a democracy, and a democratic army must be made up of men who are good soldiers but who also are conscious of the fact that their future depends on their being good citizens of a democracy. Therefore, even as they fight they must think about what they want to do with their victory, what they want to accomplish when they come home again, and what they want their families to do while they are gone.
I have been seeing several members of my family in New York City during the last twenty-four hours, and paying visits to the Doctors' Hospital each day. Now I am back in Washington.