OCTOBER 9, 1943
HYDE PARK, Friday—Last night I went to speak at a bond rally sponsored by the American Federation of Negro College Students. I was impressed by the fact that this group had set out among their members throughout the country to raise the price of a Flying Fortress, which was to be the first Fortress manned by an interracial crew. I imagine, of course, this is to be a volunteer one.
More than $800,000 has already been raised, which means that the price of a Fortress is now in hand. This group of college students has a grave responsibility, because they are going to carry much of the work which must be done in the postwar world in cooperation with white citizens. The youth of all races today have difficult situations to solve.
I wonder if you were as much impressed as I was by a story which appeared in the paper recently. A reporter in Italy asked a Japanese-American soldier fighting in Italy with his group, many of them recruited in Honolulu, how they felt about being there. The boy is reputed to have said that he would have liked to take part in the war in the Pacific, but was glad to serve his country anywhere. Perhaps it was wise to have his group in Italy, because they bear such a resemblance to the Japanese that it might be confusing, but his attitude seems to me the perfect one.
You are an American whether your features are those of a Japanese, whether you have Italian or German ancestry, are born or bred in this country, or are naturalized. You are an American and you take pride in "the American Idea," which claims you as its own when you subscribe to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We are Americans all, and it is well to bear this mind as we approach the postwar problems, because they are going to require our close adherence to these ideals.
There are still many green trees up here in the country and the last two days we seem to be returning almost to summer weather. I hope it will last for a while. I love to walk through the dead leaves, but always feel a little dreary when I see them swirling to the ground. To me, October is one of the nicest months of the year. The fruits of the earth still come to us from our gardens. In fact, I even had corn on the cob the other day. Apples, pears and grapes are at hand, and the problems of rationing seem very unimportant, at least as long as we are in the country. When we are back in the city, I shall be better able to sympathize.