AUGUST 28, 1943
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 17—This column is being written on the plane just before reaching San Francisco. I am about to start on a long trip which I hope will bring to many women a feeling that they have visited the places where I go, and that they know more about the lives their boys are leading. I am going on this trip for the Red Cross, because I found in Great Britain that, if you wanted to talk with the boys, you hou had to catch them in their moments of ease. Many of those moments are spent in Red Cross Clubs. In addition, I want to visit as many of our hospitals as possible, and there, again, the Red Cross uniform is a familiar sight.
I have been invited to visit New Zealand and Australia to see the work that the women are doing, as I did in Great Britain. This, too, I think will be of interest to other women all over the world. This is a period when women are doing new things in many places, sometimes from sheer necessity, sometimes because they have long wanted to do something different but conventionalities held them back. Now the world is a freer world and those with capacity, whether men or women, are in demand.
I hope that our soldiers, sailors and marines, wherever I see them, will know how much I appreciate this opportunity to bring them a greeting from their Commander in Chief, and how deeply interested I am in them and their achievements.
Now that the tide of battle seems to be running our way in the various theatres of war, and victory is no longer a grim determination but daily, drawing nearer, we have an obligation to think of the postwar period and the return of our boys to civilian life. A chance to train for the work they want to do in the world will be open to them, I am sure. Both the Administration and Congress will be anxious to give those who have fought so well and given these years of their lives to their country's service an even better chance than they could otherwise have had to fulfill their highest ambitions.
When we get into San Francisco, I am going to spend the day at our son's house. I am glad of this chance to see them once again in their home here for when I return he will have left for sea duty.
Later, I shall fly over the Pacific Ocean. To our young transport pilots it is just a routine. When some of them take out their "short snorter" bills for me to sign I am amazed at the countries they have visited. There will be few corners of the earth to which these boys cannot find their way.
For me, however, it is going to be an experience which I never expected to have. I shall see places I have read about even before this war made some of the names so tragically familiar. They tell me I shall be very cold in some places and very hot in others, that in spots the mosquitoes will be bad. In fact, they say I shall be uncomfortable at times on this trip, and it does not worry me at all. If our boys can stand it for months and in some cases it has already been almost two years for some of them. I think that I shall be much too interested to notice any discomfort.