JULY 19, 1943
SEATTLE, Wash., Sunday—Yesterday morning my daughter took me to a meeting of the Pacific Northwest Trade Association in the Chamber of Commerce Auditorium. This meeting was held in the interest of further developing the militarycommunication and trade routes between this part of our country and Alaska. The obvious first step is another road, the present one having been built for military reasons to tie up the existing airports.
This proposed new road would be a more direct way from the West Coast states through British Columbia to Alaska. The meeting was attended by representatives from British Columbia, who are naturally deeply interested in the development of better transportation in this part of the country. The plan was discussed first from the military point of view and it seemed to me to have obvious interest for the Army. But I think it also has distinct interest in the postwar period from a commercial point of view. Quite obviously much of the trade between Alaska and the States must be with the West Coast.
In all probability, many of the people taking part in this discussion yesterday have not been enthusiastically backing the National Resources Planning Board, and yet I noticed that the information contained in the Board's latest report on the future possibilities of development along various lines in Alaska, was essential to prove the value of the road which this group wishes to have built.
The discussion proved the value of research and planning and the need for knowledge. It is essential for the future that we know about the undeveloped resources in different parts of our country. This illustrates our shortsightedness in doing away with a board which has already gained a great deal of knowledge and which might be increasingly valuable as we enter the postwar period.
Quite obviously, this proposed road to Alaska can be urged now on purely military grounds. Just as the first one was built to increase the protection of this coast, the second road can be built for that reason, and that alone. But I think the gentlemen I saw yesterday are thinking beyond the war period. They know that the development of Alaska is valuable to the whole West Coast. In addition, they know that it is possible in the future that this will be one of the quickest routes to reach parts of Russia and China.
Anyone with imagination today, who has watched the Russian experiment and realizes what they have done in industrial development in the past few years for purposes of war, must also realize that they will do much in the years to come for purposes of peace.
Siberia has been an undeveloped land, but much more is being done there today than ever before. Much will undoubtedly be done for the industrial and agricultural development of China after the war. There are vast possibilities there to market our goods, to use our knowledge and our brains to help make this tremendous population a better market for us.
Millions of people in China have had very few of what we consider the comforts of life. Once given an opportunity to increase their own earning power, we shall have an opportunity to find out whether the things we have found desirable can be made desirable to them. All this is implicit in the plans which the Pacific Northwest Trade Association are considering.
It will have to go to Washington and the representatives of the country as a whole will have to see the vision which the people of this coast see so easily. I think it is such a magnificent vision for the future that the people of the United States, who have always been pioneers and loved adventure, will want to embark on this new adventure.