MAY 17, 1944
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—This morning I went out to the University of Maryland to meet with the group that is at present studying for welfare work with the UNRRA. These students make up a very distinguished group. A few of them are refugees from various European and Near East countries. All of them have had training in some field of work. There are experts in the management of warehouses, or transportation, agricultural experts who have dealt with displaced peoples, engineers, bankers, and even the head of a large industrial business. They are learning to talk the languages of the countries in which they are going to work, and to approach their new problems with a knowledge of existing conditions.
I could easily see, after talking with those people, that no one who was not an expert in some field would be of use. One has the greatest respect for their courage, for besides background training, it will take an extraordinary amount of emotional stability and physical strength to go through what lies before them.
As I looked at their faces, I realized that many of them had already done similar work. I saw Miss Elizabeth Gardiner, who has World War I experience, and has added much more since then. The records of the others show that there is no one listed who cannot make a contribution. From the bottom of my heart I wish them well on their errand of mercy, and I would be happy if there were something more I could contribute to their success.
Many letters have come to me lately advocating that the nation be able to go into its churches on the day the great invasion of Europe starts, in order to pray for the men who will be risking their lives. It would certainly ease the hearts of many wives and mothers, and I hope that every church will be opened as soon as it is known that the invasion has begun. For many of us, this day which we know must come and which we want to reach because we feel it is the necessary prelude to the end of the war in Europe, still is approached with dread, because of the young lives we know must be lost on that day. To pray together will probably be a great help to many people.
Here and there I have also seen the suggestion that instead of getting the news in the press and over the radio, bells should be rung all over the nation. I hope this will not happen, for bells indicate victory to most of us, and at best this day is only the beginning of a final victory. In between there must lie hardship, destruction and death. When finally the Fascists have surrendered, then our bells can indeed ring, and many hearts which have had to suffer will rejoice that others will be spared the same suffering from then on.