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Women’s Role in Winning the Role

August 23, 25, 26, 1942 — radio broadcast


Fellow Americans:

Never before in this history of America have women faced such tremendous responsibilities. And they are ready. While they still have true, deep emotions — they are not hysterical.

Having just visited nearly all the large cities of the West Coast and the Midwest, I can truthfully say that it was a revelation to me to see the shining faces of women and girls — changing shifts — in war production shops. Skillfully and speedily promoting the air-craft and othe rindustires, to such a degree that in many they even excel the men in speed and skill.

In actual War Relief, and emergency work of all kinds, they are marching together in a practical, organized manner. Young, strong mothers have found the way opened for them to enter industry — to take the places of the men who have gone to war — against the worst enemy of womanhood — Fascism.

On the West Coast, the Women’s Auxiliaries of the Steel and Machinist Unions — with the help of Parent-Teacher Associations — have taken the lead in the organization of Day Nurseries, Kindergartens and Playgrounds for the Children of these Mothers, who must be released for Industry.

50,000 women have been called upon to register in Seattle for War Work. In the Boeing Air-Craft shop in Seattle, one woman was found who brought three children with her to work, and while she was in the shop, locked them in her automobile, releasing them at noon to east their lunch.

This moved the owners of that shop to secure at once a suitable building near the shop for a children’s Day Nursery, and for Health Supervision and Child-Care generally.

The American Woman’s Voluntary Service Corps has done wonderful work in their Child Care Department. In some cases, securing permission from the Board of Education to use large airy rooms in large school buildings for the summer.

The neighborhood and community work is carried on successfully in many cities. Women Air-Raid Wardens have gotten acquainted with every family in the Block — and helped in a closer bond of understanding of what this People’s War Against Fascism, really means to all women. It is especially helpful — this Community Work — to families whose sons have entered the war.

I have just heard of the inspiring example set by the girls at the barrage balloon plant of the General Tire & Rubber Co. in this city. Only women are employed there and every one of them has assigned at least 10% of her wages for War Bonds.

I have also heard of the splendid work being done by tens of thousands of women — in the big war factories and in Civilian Defense. I know that thousands of other mothers here would gladly enter the factories if they had Day Nurseries where their children would be cared for while they produce the necessary weapons to annihilate Hitler’s axis.

No mother or wife today wastes any time in Loneliness, or tears. As the Russian women said to us in the midst of their terrible suffering from the brutal attacks upon them, by the enemy: “This is no time for tears.”

Women: Just think how our men and boys EVERYWHERE will be happy to know that their wives, mothers and sweethearts are busy and useful.

They will respect all women more, because their own are busy and cheerful, and full of courage.

We all know how men hate to see weeping women. We are very glad to ehar of the Stalin-Churchill-Harriman Conference in Moscow which strengthens and develops the unity, the friendship, and the join efforts of the United Nations. We are very glad to hear of the large commando raid on the coast of France early last week. This is a good omen of the Second Front. — That men and machinery will pour into Europe to scare Hitler’s hordes, will smash their brutal attacks upon Russia and those countries they have conquered and enslaved.

What a remarkable world crisis this is, today. To the Allies — the United Nations — will be given: Not only the responsibility, but also the honor, and glory of saving America: yes — civilization itself will be saved by a tremendous, powerful Second Front.

The People’s War is on. Whole-heartedly we march together — Men and women, colored and white, Jew and Gentile, all creeds and nationalities.

All Unions! This is our country, Our America! We built it together by our labor.

Many of our countrymen have speculated about what will happen after this people’s war. We must not speculate about that at this time. There is one outstanding act, however, that if Hitler’s forces win in Europe — we shall fall. Not only in the Soviet Union — but also our country would be lost. Our culture, our democracy, our children — all would be lost.

Therefore we cannot — we must not lose.

Our greatest American poet, Walt Whitman, has expressed the thoughts and bewilderment of the people very beautifully, in the last part of this great poem “The Mystic Trumpeteer”:

(I quote from Walt Whitman)

Blow again, trumpeteer — conjure war’s wild alarums.
Swift to thy spell, a shuddering hum like distant thunder rolls;
Lo: where the arm’d men hasten — Lo; mid the clouds of dust, the 
glint of bayonets;
I see the grime-faced cannoniers, I mark the rosy flash amid the 
smoke — I hear the cracking of the guns:
—    Nor war alone — thy fearful music-song, wild prayer, brings every 
sight of fear,
The deeds of ruthless brigands — rapine, murder — I hear the cries 
for help!
I see ships foundering at sea — I behold on deck, and below deck 
the terrible tableaux.
O trumpeter! methinks I am myself the instrument thou playest:
Thou melt’st my heart, my brain — thou movest, drawest, chan-
gest them at will;
And now thy sullen notes send darkness through me,
Thou takest away all cheering light — all hope,
I see the enslaved, the overthrown, the hurt, the opprest of the 
whole earth,
I feel the measureless shame and humiliation of my race — it 
becomes all mine;
Mine too the revenges of humanity — the wrongs of ages — baffled 
feuds and hatreds;
Utter defeat upon me weighs — all lost! the foe victorious!
(Yet ‘mid the ruins Pride colossal stands, unshaken to the last,
Endurance, resolution, to the last.)
Now, trumpeteer, for thy close,
Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet;
Sing to my soul — renew its languishing faith and hope;
Rouse up my slow belief — give me some vision of the future;
Give me for once its prophecy and joy.
O glad, exulting, culminating song!
A vigor more than earth’s is in thy notes!
Marches of victory — man disenthralled — the conqueror at last!
Hymns to the universal God, from universal man — all joy!
Women and men, in wisdom, innocence and health — all joy!
Riotous laughing bacchanals fill’d with joy!
War, sorrow, suffering gone — The rank earth purged — nothing 
but joy left!
The ocean fill’d with joy — the atmosphere all joy!
Joy! Joy! in freedom, worship, love! Joy in the ecstasy of life!
Enough to merely be! enough to breathe!
Joy! joy! all over joy!

So spoke our great bard, Walt Whitman. And he speaks for the women of America today.



Source: Ella Reeve Bloor Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton MA.