JANUARY 10, 1945
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Here is the quotation I promised you yesterday, to illustrate the point I made about prejudices and lack of knowledge.
"Why not write a column on where the British troops are?" my correspondent asks. "Since they were given leave to go home to increase the English population, you hear no more about them. Is theirs permanent leaves? It sure seems like it! Why do our boys have to fight alone in this war the British got us into?"
The writer seems to have forgotten that the British had nothing to do with our going into the war. It was the Japanese attack on our islands at Pearl Harbor that took us into the war, and the Germans later declared war on us. The British have been fighting on every front with us steadily, and they have had fewer leaves for their troops considering the length of time they have been on various fronts. Even out in the Pacific, the Australians and New Zealanders are fighting side by side with us.
By now you would think there would be no one left in this country who thinks that the British got us into this war. In fact, you would think Pearl Harbor Day would settle that once and for all. But no one is so blind as a person who does not wish to see. As I said yesterday, prejudice inherited from our ancestors will often lead us by the nose if we do not make up our minds to face facts as they are and to obtain knowledge.
I think it has been desperately hard for our soldiers to fight for us so far away from their own shores. It is easier for men to fight on the ground which they love, for they can feel that, step by step, they are defending their own homeland. Yet while this has been harder for our men, it has made it infinitely easier for us here at home. It makes it possible for us to gripe about the little things because we do not know what the big things would be like.
The sooner we face up to the fact that this is our war, and that we owe our men more because they kept it away from our shores at a cost of greater hardship to themselves, the sooner we at home will do the job which other men and women civilians have done and are doing all over the world. They probably do not like it any better than we do; but they know what war on their own doorstep is like, and that makes it easier for them to face their own great hardships. No one can imagine the loss and suffering of those whose dear ones die or are wounded in combat, and that has come to many, many homes in this country. But as civilians in our daily lives, we are not enduring the hardships of nations nearer the war.
In case you have not seen it, there is a publication by the U.S. Camera Publishing Corporation which is worth your looking through. It is called "Born Free and Equal," and the text and photographs are by Ansel Adams. It is one of the publications designed to temper one of our prejudices, and I think it does it very successfully.