JULY 29, 1940
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Yesterday, Miss Thompson and I started on a full day's recreation. I don't think I prepared for it in the best possible manner, because the night before my son, Elliott, motored up from New York City and because, early in the evening, I had a meeting of the Hyde Park Improvement Association. We did not get started talking until fairly late. At 12:30 he told me he could not spend the night and was driving back to New York City in order to be there for an 8:30 o'clock appointment Saturday morning, so he actually left about one a.m.
The group left here was still so interested in the discussion we had had with Elliott on our personal obligations to the country at this moment, and what they meant for each and every one of us, that we went on discussing our divergences of opinion on the matter of compulsory service. Two of the young people present felt that if the opportunity for service is offered to young people, they will take it so gladly and willingly, it is almost insulting to suggest that it has to be compulsory.
In addition, they felt it would establish a bad precedent to force people to give part of their lives into the hands of the government and that the compulsion will make it an unwilling service. I cannot help but feel that this is a mistaken idea, and my own sons feel as I do. Of course, they are fortunate in that they have not had to sacrifice in order to keep alive during the past few years and they do get a satisfaction in giving, as any of us do who have something to give.
I still feel however, that this is the democratic way for us, through our representatives, to insist that all of us shall give some service to the nation, and that it shall be specific as to time, place and kind of service. After all, this is only delegating a little more authority over ourselves. We rarely hear any objection now to the fact that we are compelled to pay taxes for the support of the public school systems, and yet that is a good example of the kind of compulsion all of us enjoy without protest every day. In view of the necessity for mobilizing our country, why should we not compel ourselves to do a little more?
When I read in the newspapers every little while of this or that new adherent to Mr. Willkie's cause, recruited supposedly from the ranks of the New Deal, I cannot help but smile. I think I could have named them months ago. They always have been adherents of some cause, but never of the New Deal. I feel like repeating over them all, the nursery rhyme:
"Tom, Tom the piper's son,
Stole a pig and away he run.
The pig was eat, Tom was beat
And ran off crying down the street."