There is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States—every man, woman, and child—is in action and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives and in our daily tasks. Here at home everyone will have the privilege of making whatever self-denial is necessary, not only to supply our fighting men, but to keep the economic structure of our country fortified and secure during the war and after the war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio broadcast to the nation, April 28, 1942

Saturday, June 11, 2011




The word was on the
blackboard in chalk.
"It’s pronounced,
I stuck my hand up and asked,
"What does it mean, Miss Lehrer?"
"It means being
unnecessarily afraid of,
or hateful toward, foreigners."

She made us think of examples:
--Posters showing Japanese soldiers
with big buck teeth.
--Townspeople refusing to buy
milk from the old German milkman.
--The rumors that went around
saying the DiMaggio brothers
wouldn’t be playing ball because
their father came from Italy.

"But why do we have
to know such a big word
in the sixth grade," I asked.
"Because, Alice," Miss Lehrer said,
"my father is the milkman."

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.


I'm Jet . . . said...

excellent poem . . .

Joyce Ray said...

Diane, I'm just finding out about your project. I love this poem! The last line is perfect! Thank you for sharing your work.

Diane Mayr said...

Thanks, Joyce! Please spread the word, and come back on Mondays and Fridays for the next 10 months or so.

Marion Eldridge said...

This has always been one of my favorites, Diane. So beautifully, simply done. And packs such a powerful, ironic, emotional punch in such a gentle way. Perfect!