APRIL 14, 1948
LONDON, Tuesday—Before the unveiling of my husband's statue, Sir Campbell Stuart had given us strict instructions that this was a ceremony timed to the minute, that we must be at the correct entrance to Grosvenor Square at 10:40 a.m.—not one minute sooner nor one minute later. Consequently, every one in our party seemed a trifle nervous yesterday morning for fear they would not be ready on time, and then even more nervous for fear they would start for the square too early. Miss Thompson and Lady Reading went off at about 10:15, but I waited to leave with Major Henry S. Hooker, President Truman's representative—trying, meanwhile, to remember my instructions.
I had tried to eat my breakfast in leisurely fashion and to read the papers with care. As I read the beautiful editorial in the London Times about this occasion, my eye was struck by John Masefield's verses in honor of my husband. They end with a line which I hope we will all remember—"Our countries are released, and Freedom stands."
I thought of this as we walked slowly past the guard of honor to our places in the stand and then waited for the Royal Family to arrive. And as I stood beside the King after the statue was unveiled, I hoped that it would be a symbol of the unity between two countries that could come in memory of a great man. Perhaps this same memory may bring together other countries if all of us strive for the same ideals for which he strove—friendship and individual freedom among nations, with justice and peace.
* * *
I liked particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury's prayer of benediction, and also the singing of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which my husband felt was one of our country's most stirring songs. The statue is fine. With the royal party, we walked around to look at it from every side.
The King and Queen talked to the young commander of the United States Marines who lined one side of the square, and I asked him to bring his men to my hotel suite so that I could thank them for their part in the ceremony. It was nice to be with American boys, and though I had nothing to offer them but American cigarettes, they also took with them my very warm good wishes. It had been a long and tiring morning for them.
In the evening, at the dinner of the Pilgrims Society, I was even more nervous over making a speech before this impressive gathering than I was when I spoke at their dinner two years ago, because this time all the speeches were broadcast—not only in this country but throughout the world. I consoled myself with the thought that, even if I were not very adequate to the occasion, Winston Churchill's eloquence would not be dimmed. We have all long since acknowledged his supremacy as an orator.
* * *
On Sunday, we visited the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. To visit this historic spot, which has been connected with the British Navy for centuries, and then to go aboard one of our own American light cruisers, the Fresno, seemed a fitting prelude to the ceremonies of the following day. This seemed to me what the American President who loved the Navy so well would be glad to have us do. He would like having one of his beloved Navy ships lying off this historic British spot on the day when the memorial in his honor was being dedicated.
After lunch we walked about the ship, and the captain kindly told me about the guns and the various things that make a modern cruiser almost a floating city. My interest, however, centered primarily in the boys of the crew. Some of them were too young to have served in the war, but others wore ribbons and battle stars denoting dangerous service in many theaters.
Because of my own boys, I have a very soft spot in my heart for the young men in all of our various services. On an occasion such as our visit to the cruiser, I always long to sit down and talk to them, instead of just saying a few words as they stand rather stiffly while we walk about the deck.
It seemed as though the whole ship's complement owned cameras, and I was rather glad of that for they will take home a record of the places they have been. I wish they would also take home a true picture of conditions in the lands they have visited, for we in the United States have much for which to be grateful. Not the least among our blessings is the fact that our country is free from secret police—and I hope we will keep it so. Also, we should be grateful that we can still buy so easily the necessities of life.