DECEMBER 3, 1943
WASHINGTON, Thursday—On two occasions lately, when I showed my film and talked about the trip to the Southwest Pacific, I was interested to have someone ask me if the servicemen wanted to vote. This happened yesterday when I showed the film at my press conference. It seems a curious question, for I would think it fairly obvious that any citizen in a democracy would want to use his vote.
As a matter of fact, it is a question which I never asked of any serviceman. However, I remember that in a number of groups, occasionally a boy would say after the first and inevitable questions on "How are things at home?"; "Will we get a chance for a job and education when we come back?" that some did ask, "Do you think we will be able to vote?"
I am afraid that late last summer, I was rather discouraging, for I knew few states had taken action. I explained that every state regulated its own voters, and the things we did state by state in this country were usually rather slow. I had not thought very seriously about the idea of something being done on a national scale by Congress. Now, of course, the soldier vote is being discussed in Congress and I suppose more people in this country are interested.
I am quite sure that the boys I talked to, when not actually engaged in fighting, which gives you little time to think of anything except the importance of staying alive, would want to vote. The proportion of men in the services belonging to the different political parties, is similar to what you would find in this country, I imagine. It seems to me that their actual participation in the war must make them want to express themselves through their ballots. At home, our sense of responsibility as citizens must be heightened by the war. We also must want these men, who make such great sacrifices for democracy, to have every possible opportunity for information on the issues facing their nation, both domestic and foreign, and to vote on them if possible.
Yesterday afternoon, I went to a meeting of the American Women's Hospital Reserve Corps and spoke. Then I went to the United War Relief Christmas Bazaar. There were so many nations represented that I found I had not brought enough money to buy something characteristic from each one. Finally, I had to ask if I could not defer payment until this morning.
Last night I went out to Walter Reed Hospital, showed my film and spoke to the convalescent patients. I took with me Mrs. Luther B. Bewley, whose husband is still in Manila. He was there in a business capacity when the Japanese came in. Three young women, two of them working down here in the WAVES and one in a government office, also came along.