SEPTEMBER 20, 1943
(Mrs. Roosevelt is on this trip travelling as a representative of the American Red Cross. All of her receipts from her column will be divided between the American Red Cross and the American Friends Service Committee.)]
SOMEWHERE IN AUSTRALIA—I have not been able to tell you about all the gifts that have been given to me by the mayors and by private citizens, but I want to express here my appreciation. A card came to me, saying, "Very best wishes for a pleasant tour and a safe return home. From an interested Townsville citizen." With the cards have come gifts which I shall take home to remind me in the future of Australia's welcome and hospitality. In addition, there have been notes and messages to the President, which I know he would want me to thank the people of Australia for. I know they will give him great pleasure as a sign of our warm cooperation in the war effort.
A letter has come to me which has touched me deeply, and which I am anxious to share with my readers. "Dear Madam, I hope I am not too presumptuous in writing to you. In your reply to Mr. Curtin at Canberra, you referred to 'those youths who will not return.' I should like to thank you for those brief words of remembrance. They were deeply appreciated by one whose only son did not return from the Middle East. I wish you good fortune and bon voyage. A Mother."
I want to say here to other mothers who may think that their losses are forgotten or ignored, that never for one moment, as I look at all these young men in uniform, is my mind free from the thought of the losses brought about by the war. The loss of young lives is a world loss as well as a personal loss, and the hearts of all women bear the burden. I only pray that suffering will bind them together the world over in an effort to create a world in which sorrow need not be endured.
I saw three different types of naval ships and went aboard all of them and spoke a word to the crews. I had visited one some time ago with one of our secretaries, who always takes a special interest in the Navy. I was glad to find a few of the same men who were aboard at the time of my previous visit and to have a word with them.
This town is a rest area for troops and the Red Cross is fortunate in having a good dance hall done over from what was once a large automobile salesroom. In the daytime there is ample space for writing, games or ping pong, and every night they have a dance. This town has only some 12,000 inhabitants, and yet 500 girls are enrolled in the Airforce Victorettes. They come night after night to dance and they have a good time, I am sure. Without them there would be no dance.
In addition, they help the Red Cross personnel with all daytime and evening activities, which make this a good place to enjoy yourself and to forget the work you have been doing, and will soon be doing again. The president is a young woman whose fiance is a prisoner of war in Japan, but she is happy tonight, because, after 19 months, without news, she has just heard from him.
One of the most interesting types of training which I have seen was an exhibition by a group of engineers on landing operations. It was very realistically done. I saw the laying of a road on a beach, with the bringing ashore of all necessary material and simulation of real occupation against enemy resistance. It seemed to me to require not only skill and courage, but a great deal of training and physical hardening, for the tasks performed were the toughest kind of work.