AUGUST 2, 1943
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Friday's Herald Tribune carried a little item that the destroyer on which our son, Franklin, Jr., is executive officer, had been bombed off the coast of Sicily. They were not directly hit and they fought off the bombers, but I know the way it feels when someone calls you up and says in what you know is an intentionally casual tone, "Franklin, Jr., is all right."
That happened to me Thursday evening, and then followed what details were known so far and my heartaches for those whose boys are not "all right." Finally, I asked whether Franklin, Jr.'s, wife had been told, and, learning that she still knew nothing, I promised to call her up on the telephone.
I did so and had just started to speak to her when I realized I was talking without any response. In a minute she came back on the wire and said: "Please start all over again, I did not hear what you said, and the first words gave me heart failure." I realized then that I hadn't been much better as a news-giver than my husband was.
Such things are bound to happen. You know it. In fact, most of us tell ourselves over and over again that we are prepared for whatever may happen. If peace comes without having to face some real tragedy, there are a good many of us, I imagine, who will not only be relieved but hardly able to believe it. Nevertheless, any news, even when it turns out to be good news, makes one catch one's breath just for a minute. Of course, I'm not talking about the usual letter which we all wait for with great anxiety and receive with joy.
The news from Italy makes one feel that the people want peace. There has always been an underground movement in Italy and many of its representatives are here in this country. I am sure that they hope from day to day that the people, themselves, will dictate whatever action their government takes. These people, working in the underground movements all over Europe, have had extraordinary courage.
Death stares them in the face every minute of the day and night and yet they go about their daily business unconcerned, knowing that the slightest slip might mean detection, sometimes leaving the country and then voluntarily going back to danger. They will have the satisfaction of knowing when liberation comes that they are the ones who have kept alive the will to freedom among their people. The United Nations will have to lean heavily on them in the postwar period, for they are the ones who are known by their neighbors as having suffered with them, and therefore, will be completely trusted.