SEPTEMBER 27, 1943
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Coming back from Australia and my visit to Guadalcanal, where I spent a night and a day, I want to review our doings.
Guadalcanal looks very different from when the Marines landed. By holding on through the desperate first months, till we could get supplies and the Army came in and relieved them, they assured us of ultimate domination in the Pacific. Today there are miles of roads and the men have floors in their tents in expectation of the rainy season.
The hospitals are well equipped and fairly comfortable, especially where they are in buildings. Everywhere you see screens for movies, which are shown after dark. The Red Cross is functioning well and I hope they soon will be allowed to add some women to the staff. Miss Ryan and I were the first women, except the nurses, who fly back and forth in ambulance planes, and who have been on the island since it was taken from the Japanese. It shortly will be considered safely behind the front line.
In Espiritu Santo, where we stopped for half a night and day, we admired the recreation area, where there were almost as many attractions as in Coney Island, but, in spite of the great crowd of men, it was less crowded.
I was shown the campsite our boy, James, and his Marine raiders once occupied, as well as the spot on the old pier where he stood in the rain on a dark night and, by the the light from a jeep, Admiral Nimitz read his citation and pinned on a decoration. It is exciting to me even now, and how I wish I could have been been there.
There were more hospitals to visit here and I came to wonder where these boys drew their courage. Here and there you saw an older man, but his spirits always were the spirits of eternal youth, which cannot be downed.
On this trip I ate in a great variety of places, perhaps more often in officers' messes, though I ate with the men and with hospital patients, too. One evening, in a certain Admiral's mess, I shall long remember.
Before we went in to dinner, he asked permission to follow the regular custom. In a room filled with some twenty men, ranging from admirals and generals to lieutenants, he called on one man for a recitation and an another for a song, in which Miss Ryan joined. Finally, "The Lord's Prayer" was sung, and then everyone joined in "Auld Lang Syne" and "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow."
Then the Admiral shook hands warmly and thanked those on his staff who were leaving for other duty the next day. Then we went in to dinner, but the warmth of the evening's atmosphere stayed with us.