JULY 27, 1944
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C., Wednesday—I think I will go back a little and tell you about my visit to the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. First I visited General Evans Carlson, who was wounded on Saipan, because our son, Jimmy, wanted to call there with me and he had to go back to work. The General looks thin and shows the strain of his wounds and the experience which he went through, but he is coming along very well.
I wish I could have talked to him longer, for Saipan is going down in history as one of the decisive battles of this war. It cost us dear, but our boys proved themselves better fighting men than the Japanese, and, many times over, avenged those of their buddies who will not return. Saipan is strategically important for the future; its capture undoubtedly is an important step in the campaign against Japan, and will shorten the struggle. For us, however, as individuals, it will always be a tragic spot, not only because of the boys who died there, but because of the many boys who were wounded. They are beginning to reach this country, and some of them were in the San Diego hospital.
It is a beautiful hospital, with wonderful grounds. Beds can be wheeled out on to the porches and the patients can lie in the sun. Because of the fact that there were so many patients, I could not cover all the wards. A great many of those able to do so gathered in the patio so that I could say a few words to them. On such occasions I am always a little worried about their being in the sun more than is wise. But perhaps in the routine of hospital life, any little change is good for them, and they might like the sun. I can remember, in the few times that I have been in hospitals, that any little incident which took up my attention, after I had ceased to be critically ill, was rather a help to my general outlook on life!
I had not seen this hospital for over two years. It has not only grown tremendously, in this period, but I felt that it had also improved greatly.
Among the boys, I found one whom I had seen in New Zealand, and many others from various parts of the United States.
As I crossed the country by train myself, I could not help thinking of the wounded boys who travel across it to different points where they can be in hospitals nearer home. It must be a long and exhausting trip for many of them, in spite of all the care we can give them. But when you see their eyes light up at the thought of seeing home faces—relatives and friends whom they have not seen for months—you know that any trip is worth it.