Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
World War, 1914-1918; World War, 1939-1945; Postwar economic planning

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, ca. 1946. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Sept. 26, 1918, a few minutes before 4 A.M. a service man of my acquaintance was standing behind a battery of French 75's at a little town called Neuville to the right of the Argonne Forest. A barrage was to be fired by all the guns on the Allied front from Belgium to the Swiss border.

At 4 A.M. that barrage started, at 5 A.M. the infantry in front of my acquaintance's battery went over. At 8 A.M. the artillery including the 75 battery refered [sic] to moved forward. That forward movement did not stop until Nov. 11, 1918.

My acquaintance came home, was banqueted and treated as returned soldiers are usually treated by the home people immediately after the tention [sic] of war is relieved.

The home people forgot the war. Two years later, turned out the Administration which had successfully conducted our part of the war and turned the clock back.

They began to talk of disarmament. They did disarm themselves, to the point of helplessness. They became fat and rich, special privilege ran the country-ran it to a fall. In 1932 a great leader came forward and rescued the country from chaos and restored the confidence of the people in their government and their institutions.

Then another European war came along. We tried as before to keep out of it. We refused to believe that we could get into it. The great leader warned the country of the possibility. He was vilified, smeared, misrepresented, but kept his courage. As was inevitable we were forced into the war. The country awoke-late, but it awoke and created the greatest war production program in history under the great leader.

The country furnished Russia, Britain, China, Australia and all the allies, guns, tanks, planes, food in unheard of quantities, built, manned and fought the greatest navy in history, created the most powerful and efficient air force ever heard of, and equipped an army of 8 1/2 million men and fought them on two fronts 12,000 miles apart and from 3,000 to 7,000 miles from the home base, created the greatest merchant marine in history in order to maintain those two battle fronts.

The collapse of the enemies of liberty came almost simultaneously in May for the eastern front and in August for the western front.

Unfortunately the great leader who had taken the nation through the peace time and war time emergencies passed to his great reward just one month before the German surrender. What a pity for this to happen after twelve long years of the hardest kind of work, three and a half of them in the most terrible of all wars.

My acquaintance who commanded the 75 battery on Sept. 26, 1918 took over.

The same elation filled the home people as filled them after the first world war.

They were happy to have the fighting stop and to quit worrying about their sons and daughters in the armed forces.

Then the reaction set in. Selfishness, greed, jealousy raised their ugly heads. No wartime incentive to keep them down. Labor began to grab all it could get by fair means or foul, farmers began blackmarketing food, industry hoarded inventories and the same old pacifists began to talk disarmament.

But my acquaintance tried to meet every situation and has met them up to now. Can he continue to outface the demagogues, the chiselers, the jealousies?

Time only will tell. The human animal and his emotions change not much from age to age. He must change now or he faces absolute and complete destruction and maybe the insect age or an atmosphereless planet will succeed him.

1946


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