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

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Train



The only other time I saw the president
was when we both had gone to enjoy
the therapeutic waters of Warm Springs.
Mr. Roosevelt took the time
to speak with some of us guests.
He mentioned his new puppy.
I said, "I have a cat named Fluffy."
I was young and didn’t know not to
interrupt such an important man.
He listened to me ramble on
about kitty cats and puppy dogs,
and when I finished, he smiled.

Today, years away from Warm Springs,
I’m in a crowd of soldiers, sailors,
and hundreds of civilians
waiting to pay their respects.
We listen attentively to the whistle
that signals the train’s arrival.
The crowd surges forward without me.
On the grass this wheelchair’s
not worth a tinker’s damn.
So, from behind, I salute, and
whisper a long overdue thank you
to the man with the smile.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Top and bottom photos courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.