JULY 16, 1945
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I give you today a letter written from Great Britain on V-E Day, which seems to me significant.
"Out across the land from where I type, where, in years gone by, the ships of death approached our countryside, between the hedges with May bloom and under the shadow of the 600-year-old church tower, there is history in the making—locally and nationally too, as this great date is being inscribed on future records.
"Here in the fields of England's green and pleasant land, children are playing, shouts and hoots of delight fill the peace of this very old village. I see fifteen children at least, dressed in that oddment of apparel which clothing ration only makes permissible, jumping, running, tiring themselves out with very great content.
"Why? If you should say that it is because peace is coming and there is a bonfire to be lit, you will be quite wrong.
* * *
"The answer is that our husky American soldier friend, perhaps on his last three hours' trip to our home, is making history right here. Corporal Wilsie, from far-off Caro, in the state of Michigan, tonight is the greatest chap on earth in the village of Spofforth.
"With jacket off and sleeves rolled above the elbow, and surrounded by this welter of howling, delighted kids between the ages of seven and fifteen—not all boys, a preponderance of girls—Corporal Wilsie is teaching the 'best game ever.' With two articles necessary for the craft given to my boys as a parting gift, could you guess what the noise is all about? For the first time in the history of a village which housed a DePercy—the first baron to sign the Magna Carta as a witness—this grand American lad from Michigan is teaching British children the rudiments of baseball.
"I am wondering if this may not be one of the ways in which we can heal the sickness of the world when peace comes. After a comradeship of war, can there be a greater and further-reaching comradeship of victory? Surely if in the green fields which saw the passage of the Romans, the invading Scots, the battling hordes of Oliver Cromwell, one American corporal is controlling the hands and hearts of fifteen noisy children and in so doing is teaching them to play a game, in this very fact there seems to me there is some hope.
* * *
"The last whack of leather on wood is heard this night and our motley baseball teams return to the street, but long after Bill Wilsie has left England and returned to his own native state will this night be remembered.
"Not because today is V-E Day, but because one humble-minded American soldier made of himself a child with children and brought to this blessed spot a touch of the new world in an old-world friendly fashion."