AUGUST 28, 1940
NEW YORK, Tuesday—The meeting with Mr. Aubrey Williams and the group of people who came together to discuss the National Youth Administration program as it now stands and how it can be improved, was most interesting. We discussed the change in the position of young people where defense is concerned, what it will mean to the program as a whole and what the whole problem of idle young people means to national defense.
I have yet to see anywhere a program or a statement which fully satisfies my own sense of what national defense really means. I have probably missed it, for somebody must have put into words what I am thinking about, namely the fact that national defense is a matter of spirit as well as of material things. I think, perhaps, spirit is the most important part of it.
We can follow Senator Byrd's suggestion and appoint Congressional Committees to speed defense materials, but they will be no more successful than any other group has been until we realize that defense is not a matter of what you get, but of what you give.
Any government would be foolish not to take into consideration the fact that it wants to learn from the results of the last war. It does not want to place individual industrialists or business people in a position where the aftermath of expansion is ruin. There are many ways, however of meeting this problem without haggling for weeks over the period of amortization, or the amount of interest which shall be earned by money invested.
Why should people say that this bill has been retarded by tying the two things together? They logically go together. You cannot divide the boy whom you draft into two pieces. He gives all he has to give and takes a complete risk. Somehow the two things are tied up in my mind, and I think should be in the minds of all the people of the country. Yes, the spirit for defense must come first before the material things ever materialize.
In addition, it seems to me that defense is a question of national mobilization. A mobilization of all of us which gives all of us something to do, trains us so we fit, according to our capacity, into a special place. It will make us better citizens and it might conceivably make our communities better places in which to live, if we tie our training program up with the needs of every community.
Our son Jimmy joined us in Washington yesterday and came up to New York City with me last evening. Today is a fine day, and I am seeing a number of people and doing a variety of errands, dining tonight with a friend and returning to the country tomorrow evening.