WASHINGTON, Wednesday—We had a real treat yesterday. A young man now in the army had written to me about some writing which he hoped to do in the future, and sent me copies of the camp paper he is editing. As he was home on furlough, I invited him to lunch. In the course of conversation it turned out that he had worked with Paderewski, and so we asked if he would like to see the piano on which this great artist practiced when he stayed here. Afterward I asked our young man to play on the piano in the East Room, which is so rarely used nowadays since we no longer have musicales or evening entertainments. It was really a treat, and was much enjoyed by one of my other guests, a boy back from the Pacific who brought the President a war club which was a gift from the head of one of the villages in British Samoa.
In the evening young Colonel Hoover, who is one of our son Elliott's pilots, brought his new wife to dine with us. The colonel had not gone back with the rest of the crew because he decided to get married, but he will follow them after a brief leave. Out of the whole crew only one enlisted man and one officer went back unmarried, which shows, I think, the urge that the men who go overseas have to leave someone waiting just for them on this side of the ocean.
A group of student veterans of World War II, who are at present studying at George Washington University under the vocational rehabilitation and the G.I. Bill of Rights programs, came in at 7 o'clock to see a movie. Afterward they came up to the State Dining Room for refreshments, and we all sat around and talked for a while.
After an early lunch today, Mrs. Henry Morgenthau Jr. and I are going to New York City. Tonight we are going to the play, but I will tell you more about that tomorrow. In the meantime I want to tell you about a very lovely Christmas card from the Rev. Frederick Brown Harris, pastor of one of our Washington churches. The first two paragraphs struck me as something we might all find comforting in these days, so I pass them along to you:
In the year 1809, with Napoleon on the march, men's feverish thoughts were on the latest news of the war. And all the while, in their own homes, babies were being born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking of battles.
In that very year, in the birth lists, were written the names of Gladstone and Tennyson and Oliver Wendell Holmes and Darwin and Abraham Lincoln and Chopin and Mendelssohn and Samuel Morley and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. But nobody thought of babies. Everybody was thinking of battles.