July 9, 1943
TUMBLING DW RANCH, Nev., Thursday—I was reading the other night an old short story called "The Return of the Private" by Hamlin Garland. These were the men coming home from the Civil War and the particular men in the story were coming home to Wisconsin. It didn't sound very different from what might be written of the situations which exist all over the country today. It told of a man who volunteered and left his farm with a mortgage on it, leased to a neighbor who didn't work it very well. His wife and three little children, one of them just a baby when he left, had a pretty tough time during the years he was away, and even after they heard the war was ended and he was alive, he had to spend some months in hospitals. He came back, tired and worn, still limping a little, to a run-down farm with the mortgage still on it. It is the last paragraph of the story which I want to quote:
"The common soldier of the American Volunteer Army had returned. His war with the South was over, and his fight, his daily running fight with nature and against the injustice of his fellow men, was begun again."
That is going to happen not only to privates but to many men who may have attained higher rank and who may have had small jobs, or fairly good jobs before this war began. What I want to point out is the fact that these men will not return to an undeveloped country. They will return to a country which still needs many things which can provide work for every man. If that is to happen, then thoughtful men must plan ahead what that work shall be in order to make it of value to the country and to distribute it so that it will employ men and at the same time fill the community needs without too much dislocation of population. Men who have settled themselves in certain parts of this country do not want to pull up their roots and give up the things for which they have slaved and move somewhere else to work. They want to work where they are established and in all probablity, with proper foresight and planning, that is a possible thing to arrange, but it just doesn't happen.
That is why we had a Planning Board which took our national resources into consideration, both physical ones and human ones, and tried to see what would give us full employment and keep up our standard of living in the future. They made some plans and embodied them in the National Resources Planning Board report. That was available to all of us and will eventually, I think, be put into easier reading form for many of us. The group that did the planning has gone out of existence and nothing further will be coming from them. Therefore, we, the people must make our demands that something along these lines is planned, or it will be harder for our returning men than it was for the private after the Civil War.
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 9, 1943
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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