JULY 30, 1943
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I understand that, under the law which makes the change in the status in the Women's Army Corps, they will have to reenlist, and they will have the opportunity, of course, of not doing so. I suppose among the girls now in the WAACS, who will shortly become WACS, there will be some who will be glad of this opportunity. Many people start out on something that they want to do for patriotic reasons and enter with great enthusiasm, but when they find it means a daily grind, with, on the whole, little excitement and no glamour, it is hard to keep up that initial enthusiasm.
So I have wanted to say something to these girls. Nowhere, have I seen any tribute paid them for the desire to serve, which undoubtedly took them into the services, and for the qualities of character which will keep them in throughout the duration of the war.
I am not belittling the work which women are doing in factories, in shipyards and in a thousand and one vital occupations. Many women can do this kind of work who could not, for one reason or another, enter into the military services.
Perhaps they cannot be spared from home, or their earnings are needed. But, if they are free and others will not suffer, I think the women who go into the military services will look back upon this period as having given them an opportunity for a more direct contribution in a way which more nearly approximates the contribution of the men in the armed services, and they deserve our warm praise.
Many a boy must wish that he could have had a few weeks more to fulfill his heart's desires, and yet he has had to go to war. He has no choice once in the armed forces as to whether he will stay or go, or what he will do.
Every woman who takes a boy's place serves under the same conditions, but she knows she is directly releasing some man to swell the ranks of the men who are now bringing the war to a close by their actual participation in the fighting. The fighters cannot do without the army of production which gives them equipment and food and mechanical necessities, without which this war cannot be fought.
Nevertheless, when it is over, it will be the men and women who accepted the discipline and the risk of life and limb, and, perhaps gave up their lives on some front, who will have a sense of comradeship which none of the rest of us can share. They will know that their contribution was the greatest to the generations of the future and we shall stand humbly before them.