JUNE 12, 1944
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Friday at the request of Mrs. David E. Finley of the Red Cross, I went to visit the hospital at Fort Belvoir and saw something of the camp as well. There are several thousand men out there training to be engineers, and, of course, with that number of men in camp, there is always a goodly number of men in the hospital. I had a chance to talk to those who could come in to the Red Cross room. Then I went through a number of wards, visited the nurses' quarters and finally saw the barracks occupied by the WACs.
The WACs are decorating their own day room; doing their own painting and the furniture ordered will, I hope, make it a very attractive place. At the back there is a beauty parlor, and the officers said to me rather apologetically that since the men had to have a barber shop, they thought it was only fair that the women should have a beauty parlor. I heartily agreed, but it amused me that they thought there was a need to justify anything different allowed the women.
In one of the wards a boy who had progressed from being a patient in the hospital to the reconditioning period, was playing the piano and the boys joined in heartily in some well known songs.
I was shown the outdoor amphitheatre which seats several thousand people and stopped for a few minutes to talk to the men who are being reconditioned. They hike and drill and take special exercises so as to get back into shape for their regular service. I was glad to find that they also have orientation courses and an educational program. They assured me that in the orientation course there is a lot of discussion, and that is a healthy sign which means better citizenship in the future.
I saw a teacher back from a mission in Western China today, and he spoke with the greatest admiration of Madame Sun Yat–Sen whom he and his wife had seen before leaving. He said she seemed weary, and I wonder if any of us in this country can have the faintest understanding of the strain and the physical hardships which living today in a country like China entails for everyone. Inflation has reached such a point that even for those who have plenty of money, it is difficult to supply the bare necessities of life. I am told that civilians find it hard to obtain foodstuffs and materials of all kinds; textiles and leather are practically impossible to acquire. We have long been told that Chinese and Japanese soldiers are trained to fight on a handful of rice a day, but I doubt if we really think much about what that would mean to us as applied to the whole population. As I sat and looked at the gentleman, I thought how far away China seems, even now when she is our ally and so hard pressed by her enemy.