FEBRUARY 10, 1944
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Last night I was talking to an older man in the Army Air Force who has just come back from India, China and Italy. It gives one courage to see people of one's own generation still able to render real service because of their training and the good physical condition which they still enjoy. This man is a vital, energetic person and I think he would have found staying out of the storm and stress of this period quite impossible. He makes his stories very vivid and full of understanding because he has a long and varied experience behind him.
He gave me permission to tell one particular story. When our Army went into Naples, the Italians were happy to see them. As our boys marched in, a motherly Italian woman rushed up to her attic where for a whole month, she had hidden an American soldier. She had fed him what little she had and she gave him loving care. He had escaped from a German prison camp. He had obtained an Italian uniform and made friends with an Italian soldier, and together they travelled toward the part of Italy where he knew his Army was fighting.
They reached Naples but it was still infested with Germans, and the decided that they had better part and that he must find a hiding place. Our boy met this woman's son, who took him home. She hid him. From day to day they expected the Americans to come in. They heard the steps of the German police patrol which passed the house night and day. The woman had four children, and their lives and hers were forfeit if the Germans ever found out that she harbored an American.
After the American Army got in, our boy and my friend gathered what rations they could find and went back to her laden with more food than she had seen for many days in gratitude for the hospitality. The whole family and the two American soldiers had a feast. The woman periodically threw her arms around the American boy and shed a few tears, tears of thanksgiving because he was safe. For she had come to look upon him almost as one of her own children!
I imagine that the Italians are an incorrigibly gay and peace-loving people. Mussolini has not made a permanent dent upon them. I hope they have the ability to demand and to carry through the type of government which will give them the things that make life worth living.
Doris Fleeson said yesterday that as our boys sank deep in Italian mud and endured rain day after day, they remarked: "Sunny Italy, what?" Italy certainly hasn't been all sun, politically or economically. Will the future bring her people and all the people of the world compensation in the way of justice and hope for what this generation of youth has gone through?