JANUARY 23, 1942
WASHINGTON, Thursday—Mr. Melvyn Douglas arrived yesterday morning to stay with us for a few days, and I was so glad to see him. There is something that is warming about the personality of certain people, and both Mr. Douglas and his wife have that quality of outgoing affection. I am sure it makes all their friends think of them often when they are away and greet them with open arms when they meet. I only wish that Mrs. Douglas were here, too.
I had the nine regional people, who work under Miss Wilma Shields in OCD, come to see me yesterday afternoon at the White House. These particular staff members have been helping to establish volunteer offices under the local defense councils in their areas. They cover a tremendous number of states in certain regions and travel endlessly with never enough time anywhere.
In spite of this, they told me such inspiring stories of the way volunteers are accepting responsibility and really running businesslike volunteer offices, with no paid nor professional personnel. They are finding opportunities for training volunteers, discovering places where they can be useful, and really stimulating all the people of their communities to take a hand in defense work.
In the evening, we had a group of friends to dinner, and were shown the latest newsreels and a very thrilling Errol Flynn movie called, "They Died With Their Boots On."
It is the story of General George Armstrong Custer. What a personality he must have been! He was full of life and courage, a dare devil, always in trouble and had plenty of faults and foibles. But he made enemies of the people who should have been enemies, and was adored and followed to the death by his cavalrymen. He lived in a colorful period, which allowed for the development of just the qualities which he had.
In another way, we are living through the same kind of period at the moment, and perhaps we shall also develop some General Custers. We have made a good beginning, I think, in some of the things which have happened in the Battle of Manilla and Pearl Harbor.
A busy morning at the office. Mr. Y. Frank Freeman came to lunch. He is here from Hollywood to work out some plans with the Treasury Department and with Mr. Lowell Mellett. Another instance of how much people want to help.