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The Wartime Journals Of Charles A. Liondbergh
A Peacetime Hero Confronts Armageddon
October 1970 | Volume 21, Issue 6
Off train [to New York] at 7:40 Daylight. Huge headlines across all papers: GERMAN TROOPS ENTER POLAND . The war has begun! What will England and France do? If they try to break the German Western Wall, I think they will lose unless America enters the war. In that case, if we go in, Europe will be still more prostrated after the war is over. And I don’t know what will take place in this country by that time. Why did England and France get themselves into such a hopeless position? What has happened to “democratic” leadership? If they wanted to fight a German eastward movement, why in heaven’s name pick this particular set of circumstances to fight over? They are in a hopeless position militarily, and Danzig, Poland, and the Polish Corridor are not banners which will encourage the Allied armies to attack on German soil. And the English talk of stupid German diplomacy! It is “The Charge of the Light Brigade” again. Somebody blundered. …
Taxi to Navy Building for 9:00 meeting of special committee in NACA offices. …
I talked to [General Henry H. “Hap”] Arnold about my intent to speak over the radio tomorrow night. It was the first time I had mentioned this to him, although he knows how I feel about the entire situation. Arnold suggested that it would be advisable for me to discontinue my present status in the Air Corps while I am taking active part in politics. I agreed thoroughly, but did not know I had any status in the Air Corps, since I have received no pay except for my first two weeks of active duty last spring. …
… Truman [Smith] and I went into the bedroom, where we could talk alone. He told me he had a message which he must deliver, although he knew in advance what my answer would be. He said the Administration was very much worried by my intention of speaking over the radio and opposing actively this country’s entry into a European war. Smith said that if I would not do this, a secretaryship of air would be created in the Cabinet and given to me! Truman laughed and said, “So you see, they’re worried.” [Smith was an Air Corps officer, former attaché at Berlin.]
This offer on Roosevelt’s part does not surprise me after what I have learned about his administration. It does surprise me, though, that he still thinks I might be influenced by such an offer. It is a great mistake for him to let the Army know he deals in such a way. Apparently the offer came through [Secretary of War Harry Hines] Woodring to General Arnold, and through General Arnold to Truman Smith. Smith told me that Arnold, like himself, felt they must pass the message on since it came from the Secretary of War’s office. Smith said he asked Arnold if he (Arnold) thought for a minute that I would accept. Arnold replied, “Of course not.”…
I went on the air at 9:45 E.S.T. …
I went for a walk after lunch through the woods and along the beach. It seems I spend most of my time these days thinking. My mind is not on the trees and birds and clouded sky as I would wish it to be, but on the war and chaos of these turbulent days. I wish I could be either wholeheartedly in the war and fighting for true beliefs and ideals, or else far enough away from it mentally and physically to be able to see the forest when I walk through it, and to feel the beauty of wind-rippled water without having part of my mind thinking of politics and bombing planes and plans. Here, at this moment, I feel in contact neither with the world of men nor with the world of God. What can be done to bring this country back? What has happened to America? To the character of the pioneer? To the courage of the Revolutionary Army? To the American destiny that we once had?
Spent the evening reading Father’s Why Is Tour Country at War?  and [Herbert A.] Fisher’s History of Europe .
“ There was something about him I did not trust, something a little too suave, too pleasant, too easy.”
… Deac Lyman phoned in the late afternoon to tell me that Roosevelt had attacked me personally in his press conference. A few minutes later [Edwin S.] Webster phoned and said that, among other things, Roosevelt had implied treason in connection with my name.
I sent for the afternoon papers. The President’s attack was more than just a political attack, for he did so in connection with my commission in the Army. If it had been only a political attack, without any connection with my commission, I would pay little attention to it. As it is, a point of honor is at stake, and it may be necessary to tender my resignation. But I don’t like to resign, for my commission in the Air Corps has always meant a great deal to me, and I would prefer to hold it.