OCTOBER 29, 1945
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Yesterday was Navy Day and certainly the people of New York City showed that they were happy to have the President in our city and to have his ship, the Missouri, along with all the other ships, in New York Harbor.
At 9:30 in the morning I went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to watch the ceremony which finally placed the U. S. S. Franklin D. Roosevelt in commission. When she was launched we were still at war, and I thought of her then as a very mighty force soon to be used to hasten our ultimate victory. I shared the pride of the workmen as we walked about the ship and I saw what a wonderful creation had come from their hands. She was beautiful; but she was also awesome, because you felt her great striking power. When you thought of the men who were going to serve on her, however—to man the ship and the planes—a catch came in your throat, for you knew that somewhere in far distant seas death might await many of them. All you could do was to wish the ship and the men good luck, and pray she would do her work well and swiftly and that as many as possible of the young men that she carried would come home safely.
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I had none of that sense of fear as I looked at her vast expanse of deck yesterday morning and saw row upon row of men, who were to make her "their" ship, awaiting her commissioning. Now one could hope, with President Truman, that she would take her part in keeping the peace of the world, and that the men on her would take seriously their duties as ambassadors of goodwill wherever they sailed.
We are at peace again, and the unity which war forces upon people when they fight side by side as allies has come to an end. Our citizens—whether they go to distant parts of the world as part of our armed forces, or as representatives of business interests, or of cultural development—have almost as great a responsibility as they had when they were part of our fighting forces, since on them depends the way the world looks at our nation. They can make us friends in the world or they can create for us new enemies.
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I was glad I had seen the ship rather thoroughly at her launching, for the crowd was so great yesterday it would have been hard even to realize her size. The Secretary of the Navy said to me: "The best way to think of the ship is in terms of three football fields laid end to end." Someone else spoke up and said: "Well, she may seem enormous to you here, but when she is out on the sea she will still look like a dot in the vast expanse of the ocean, and her fliers will still not find her deck space too great for landing."
What skill those fliers have! I watched with great interest as they wrote the initials "F. D. R." in smoke and the letters floated in the sky. Then, when they flew in formation and the letters passed right over our heads, I thought it was an extraordinary feat of dexterity and skill. It would have been a great day for my husband, and I know that he would have ended it with the prayer: "God bless the ship, its officers and men, and make her service great in a peaceful world."