JULY 21, 1942
NEW YORK, Monday—Much to our pleasure, the concert given yesterday afternoon by the Dutchess County Philharmonic Society was very well attended. On the whole this local orchestra is really remarkably good, and I think the opportunity to have Mr. Hans Kindler lead them and to play to such an audience will serve as a stimulus for more work in the future. It may also be useful in awakening the people of the neighborhood to the need for supporting local talent. Orchestras such as this very often furnish the real musical education of a people and are the reservoirs where great talent is discovered and developed.
I have a letter today which brings up a point that I have wanted to discuss in this column before. At one of my press conferences I was asked whether I would approve of the drafting of boys in the eighteen and nineteen-year-old group. Frankly, of course, I hope we will not be forced to do this, because I feel that it is important, where boys show aptitude for further education, that they should have an opportunity to acquire it. It is probable that in times of war where boys are not anxious for more education, they will enlist since after the age of eighteen, enlistment is possible. If it does become necessary, however, to use younger boys on a draft basis, I think it should be done with the greatest discrimination.
This mother who writes me from Atlantic City, N. J., points out that her older boy had three years of earning his own living before he enlisted at the age of twenty-one. I imagine that during those three years, she felt that he was safeguarded by the fact that he was living at home and therefore could be watched over by his family. On the other hand she feels that her younger boy, who is eighteen, has never been anywhere except where his family has taken him; so if he were thrown with a mixed group today, he would not have the experience to know good companions from bad, and might succumb the influences which three years later would not touch him. In other words, she feels that her eighteen-year-old boy is still a child, and this, of course, is true in many cases.
That is why I think draft boards, considering boys of this age, will have to consider first their physical development. Many an eighteen-year-old boy is strong enough to stand the strain. Others might not be. Secondly, mental and moral development are important factors to be considered. These two things will depend largely on the types of schools and homes in which these boys have been brought up. If they have been sheltered and made somewhat too dependent upon their elders, it would be too great a hardship to plunge them immediately into military service, and they should probably have some intermediary preparation.