Happy 4th of July to you! Just think – this is my second 4th in France, but this one is so much easier to take than the first was. I dug out the little book I have which you might call a diary. It starts with 6 June and I just stopped writing in it the other day. I’ve never believed in diaries – but I knew I’d like to have a permanent record of my travels on the Continent; I felt the 438th would travel, and it did. The notes I have on the 4th last year tell me we were at St. Come du Mont, Normandy – and I can remember the place very well. The notes go on to say that it rained in the p.m. and that in honor of Independence Day General Bradley (he was in charge of the First Army then; Hodges took over later) ordered every artillery gun in tactical set-up to fire one round in the direction of the enemy – at noon. But there was firing all day anyway. There was supposed to be a push that day but I have noted down that it was called off because of heavy casualties suffered by the 83rd Division in the very early stages of the Push-off. And as I sit back now and remember it – we had to wait until 3 weeks later – the 25th – for the breakthrough. Boy – those were long hard days, full of anxiety and wonder – if we’d every get out of the damned peninsula.
Yes – it’s better now, sweetheart – except that we’re or I’m still waiting, but for something infinitely nicer. Oh yes! Yesterday p.m. I went over to visit Dave Ennis at the hospital. I stayed for dinner – which they have at 1700. We sat around and talked and then he suggested we visit some French friends of his – a couple aged about 40 I should say. Well – we got to their house at 2000 and had to eat with them. The French (and the Germans) eat late you remember – and you can’t refuse them when they invite you. I enjoy eating with the French. Their meals take at the very least – an hour and usually more. The courses are served one at a time. When you finish the potatoes, for instance, the meat is served; after that, the vegetables – etc. They turned out to be very nice people and the conversation was entirely in French. I’m way behind in it – particularly the vocabulary. Dave speaks just like a Frenchman. Of course he’s been in France for almost a year.
After that – the evening was pretty well gone. We came back here – our quarters – had a couple of drinks – and I took him back. It was not the kind of “night before” celebration I would have liked to spend.
Ah – yes – yesterday. I got 3 letters from you, darling, the 12th of June and 2 dated the 18th – and most welcome, too. So you’d like to know what part the 7th Corps – the 438th played in the war. I can tell you this now, darling, the 7th Corps spearheaded every drive that the First Army made, from the landing in Normandy, until the end of the war – and where the 7th Corps went, the 438th was with it. We saw the war develop and come to a climax – and I’ll always remember it as I saw it and not as I heard about it. And yes, I’ll probably miss the group I’ve been with for so long. I dread being separated from them when they finally start re-deploying the outfit. The re-deployment is done here, and not in the States. When that time comes, I’ll probably be re-assigned – because I’m in the Medical Corps and the Lord knows what I’ll hook up with; but as long as it’s with an outfit going home, I won’t mind.
And now I must stop, sweetheart. It’s almost lunch time now – and I’ve got to get washed up. I hope you’re having a pleasant Holiday. Be well, darling, love to the folks – and
This means that people throughout the world are going to ask what happened on July Fourth which made the American people choose it as their national holiday. They will be told that on that day a document was written in which a very small group of men set forth their convictions as to what was right or wrong. These men then led a successful war to uphold these convictions and freed themselves from a strong power across the sea that, at that time, was not concerned with the rights of people far away. Then they wrote a Constitution, to which they appended a Bill of Rights which delegated certain powers to their representatives in government, but retained the vast majority of fundamental powers in the hands of the people themselves.
What we remember most on the Fourth of July and what, I think, will impress itself most on the peoples of other nations as they read our Declaration of Independence, is that our concern was with human rights. In the last few years all over the world this question of human rights has been increasingly of importance to the people.
I think when the history of this past twelve years is written, we will find a very great development in the awareness of the people that their government belongs to them and is designed to furnish them with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
We have had periods here when property rights transcended human rights. But because our continent was such a vast one to develop, there was room for the development of property and its protection and we did not greatly harm the rights of human beings.
We have reached a point today, however—obviously we have been working toward it steadily during the last twelve years—when all questions will be considered first from the standpoint of human rights. That is going to hold good, I believe, throughout the world.
Perhaps, therefore, it is fitting that more and more this national holiday of ours should become known and respected by the peoples of the world. For the truths set down in the Declaration of Independence are the fundamentals of a lasting peace. If we are to move forward under the new charter toward a peaceful world, we must accept in all the United Nations these truths and it is well that we should remind ourselves individually in the U. S. A. that the Fourth of July is a day on which we glorify human rights.
(Copyright, 1945, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)