AUGUST 2, 1944
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I think sometimes we are prone to forget, in the excitement of watching the fighting fronts, that much of great importance to the future, is being done in other theatres of war. Men are going through and have been going through great hardships, sometimes just to protect an area whose fall into enemy hands otherwise would make our position hazardous. This is true, of late, in the whole Caribbean area, and in Greenland, Iceland and Newfoundland.
Sometimes they are not only protecting an area, after having fought hard to acquire it, but are also doing development work which is important from the transportation standpoint during the war, and may be important to our economic development in the future. In this category I think we can put the Aleutians and Alaska.
Someone kindly sent me a letter, written by a boy long ago, when the Alcan Highway was being built. The difficulties which the civilian workers and the soldiers encountered were not merely difficulties of terrain. The cold and the loneliness must have been trying experiences. The men must have felt, in addition, that they would get little or no glory for all the hardships and dangers which they went through. We should be, as a nation, deeply grateful to these men, and so I am going to give you a few excerpts from this really remarkable letter.
". . . Leaving Washington, Dec. 11, 1942, and travelling via train through the good old United States and part of Canada and then by government freight trucks over the highway, I arrived here the day before Christmas. It wouldn't pay to dwell too long on the subject of Christmas and my first week or so after I arrived, for reasons not necessary to explain. As time goes on, however, one gets used to the many changes from civilian to army life and grows accustomed to it. My days are completely full from morning until night. . . I really feel that I have been very fortunate in experiencing the trip over the new Alaskan highway while it is yet in its primitive stages. The road is broken through extending from the United States into Alaska, and transportation over the route is now moving; however, the fact remains that the road is yet to be improved, revised and advanced to an extent beyond our own thoughts.
"The Alcan Highway, so named by combining Alaska and Canada into one word, is truly a joint effort of American and Canadian people. The greater part of the highway is in the Dominion of Canada. Of its 1,600-mile length, approximately 1,200 miles wind through the immense forests and up and down the mountains of our sister country. Canadians and Americans have worked together, lived together and borne the same hardships side by side. . . I sound like a salesman trying to sell my goods, but I guess I'm like all other soldiers, and am proud of the unit I'm in."