MARCH 7, 1944
MIAMI, Monday—Exactly at noon on the Fourth of March, Miss Thompson and I left Washington. It was raining. The President and Anna and one or two others came to see us off. I am glad that during this trip there will be some young life in the White House, as it makes it a more cheerful place for anyone who happens to stay there.
Almost before we knew it, the skies began to clear and by the time we reached Palm Beach, Fla., it was warm and sunny. Mrs. Donner Winsor and my grandson, William, met us at the airport with General Alexander and Colonel Deemer. We arranged to be at the hospital by eight-thirty Sunday morning. We had a quiet dinner. Afterwards a number of Betty Winsor's friends came in.
On the way down in the plane, I had a chance to talk with several of my fellow passengers. Among them was a young navigator who had been on a bomber plane in the Philippines. He was missing for two years, and as he told me the story, I kept thinking of what his family must have gone through. How hard it must have been to keep up hope during such a long period of anxiety without word of any kind!
He described calling up his family when he was back here and free to call them. He told them he would be home the following Monday morning. Then he said: "They met every train between that time and when I arrived." I can understand that. It must have been like having someone come back from the dead. He looked well, and I asked him if going through so many strange and varied experiences did not give him a tremendous amount of self confidence. I should think that after having lived through so much, nothing would seem beyond one's powers. But like most of our American boys who have seen great adventure, he deprecated any suggestion that he had accomplished anything extraordinary.
Several of the boys brought their short-snorter bills to be signed, and one of them told me he had been two or three times around the world. Another passenger said he came from Washington and had a daughter named Mary Patricia Hanlon, whose mother would be thrilled to see her name in the paper. So here are my good wishes to Patricia.
All day I have been impressed by the fact that for the first time I have been seeing people who have been flown back from India, Persia, as well as North Africa, Sicily and Italy. One boy was brought to the hospital here in five days from India.
The Ream General Hospital in Palm Beach, which I visited on Sunday morning, is beautifully situated, and gives the boys just what they need after the time that they have put in in the hot climate of India which is dry during the day and damp at night. It is not too rapid a transition and yet it does give them enough of a change. The men seem to appreciate their surroundings. They enjoy the beach and the pool, and in spite of some very serious injuries, in nearly all cases they are doing very well. This is the hospital over which there has been some controversy. But there can be no controversy over the fact that it is a good hospital which is rendering valuable service to men who have been badly wounded in the war.