OCTOBER 30, 1943
WASHINGTON, Friday—In the last two days, at tea and lunch, I have talked before the Women's National Press Club, the American Newspaper Women's Club, and the Women's Advisory Committee of the War Manpower Commission.
Yesterday morning, I spent at Silver Spring, Md., where the ambulatory patients go from Walter Reed Hospital. This was formerly a girls' school and it is quite surprising how well it has been rearranged to fit the needs of convalescent soldiers. It does not seem like a hospital, which I think is a great advantage when you are getting well.
This morning, I spent some time going through some of the wards at Walter Reed Hospital. One is impressed by the fact that automobiles and ordinary accidents at home are responsible for the presence of quite a few of the patients. Those who are back from overeas are, of course, suffering from more permanent disabilities. They are facing those handicaps with remarkable courage and cheerfulness.
I think one great advantage of being with other men similarly injured is the reassurance it gives that any man can learn to do as well. One boy this morning was longing to get back to his farm and he wondered whether a leg off above the knee was going to make his work impossible. I am quite sure that after a little while he will be able to do everything he did before, but the thing which will make him sure will be to see somebody walk in who has learned to get around with both legs off. Another boy drove a truck before the war, and he is quite sure he will be able to go back and to manage his own truck.
Such fine spirit makes you proud of young America and it makes you hope that the families at home and the people in their communities will meet them halfway and help them to be the normal people they want to be, on whom others can depend just as they always have.
Colonel Koch, a Dutch plastic surgeon who is over here both to teach and to learn, came to lunch today. He told me about the advances made in England since the war in the hospital where he worked, both in the treatment of burns and in the use of plastic surgery. It is horrible that it takes a war to make us progress, nevertheless it is true that we have progressed by leaps and bounds among many lines.
I am just about to order some grapefruit, which I get every year from the Rio Grande Valley. Whenever I do get it, I think there must be something very queer about a situation, where you pay more freight on a shipment than you do for the grapefruit! I can send a package of equal weight from here to my daughter-in-law in Texas and pay less freight than she pays in sending me an identical package. I puzzle about this every year, and it never seems quite right. I wonder who is to blame?