JUNE 14, 1944
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I imagine that everyone, day by day, is reading the papers and trying to visualize what our men in every branch of the services are going through in Europe. Ernie Pyle's column yesterday gave me as realistic a picture as anything I have read. Sometimes I have thought it would be harder to be a paratrooper, landing Heaven knows where, each man trying to find his buddies, but knowing that at once he must be a small army in himself—prepared to take on the enemy single handed. But when I read that description of landing on the beach, I realized that when all is said and done, the brunt of the war is carried by the infantry. It is the least picturesque of the services, perhaps, because it is the oldest. The air force is glamorous and dangerous enough, Heaven knows, and all of its work is needed in preparation both before and during an attack, but final victory is won by the infantry and final occupation of a country must be made by the infantry.
To bring this home to us, we are asked to celebrate "Infantry Day" on June 15. This day will be the 169th anniversary of the selection of General George Washington as commander in chief of our Revolutionary Army, which, by the way, was composed almost entirely of infantry units. How different the fighting was in those days! It is hard to realize that in 1775 the rifleman was not looked upon as a very serious factor in waging war. Benjamin Franklin, progressive as he was for his day, insisted that a good man with a bow and arrow was a more useful fighter!
So, from the days of our bow and arrow on, way back in the history of every country of the world, there have been infantrymen who have fought in all wars whether they were Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks or Romans—and they carried every variety of weapon. In the old days it was fierce hand-to-hand fighting, as it is occasionally today, but for the most part the introduction of firearms has changed the character of the infantryman's war.
So let us join as a nation in celebrating "Infantry Day" by buying a bond for some particular infantryman, even if our own personal interest happens to be in someone who is in some other branch of the services.
Last night I attended the graduation exercises of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research. Dr. Alvin Johnson, director of the New School, spoke on the problems of the returning soldier. Mr. Louis Weiss, chairman of the board, welcomed me and a young Chinese graduate spoke in the most perfect English as the representative of the whole graduating group.