SEPTEMBER 11, 1942
WASHINGTON, Thursday—I have two very different problems placed before me today. I know of no better way to handle them than to ask you, the public, to consider in your communities how to meet these wartime situations.
The first problem exists in a northern university city which was settled very early in our history. Here there is a medical school where young doctors are being trained as quickly as possible to fill one of the most vital needs of our armed forces and of our civilian population. If these young men, out of uniform, of course, go for a walk at night, they have on several occasions found themselves attacked by soldiers from a nearby camp. The soldiers do not stop to find out what the boys are doing, they just brand them as cowards for being out of uniform at the present time.
I remember a similar psychology in the last war, and it is certainly very unfair. I receive a great many letters from young men who have been turned down by their draft boards for physical reasons and who beg me to find a way in which they can get into the armed forces.
This attitude on the part of any people is regrettable and shows, I fear, a lack of confidence in the fairness of the draft boards and a feeling that certain young men, who are out of uniform, have been given special privileges. In reality, they are deprived of the greatest of all privileges they long for, namely, to defend their country now.
Those who are in training, of course, students in some course which is of vital importance to the future of the war, should not be subjected to any suspicion. Could we devise some kind of insignia to be worn by students taking necessary courses of training? Something also could be awarded to those who, while they are physically unfit for the armed services, are still doing in their daily lives work which is of vital importance to the community, and therefore is equally important in carrying out the war effort.
The other problem is the tale of a soldier who was found lying in a ditch, completely unconscious, his money and valuables stolen. All he remembered was that he had accepted a ride from a passing motorist and then the offer of a drink. From that time on his memory was a blank.
Thousands of people are giving the boys a ride and doing a great service by doing so, but there is this danger of being picked up by the wrong kind of person. I wonder, if in every community, anyone who drives a car should not apply for some sort of permit to be shown clearly on the car authorizing the picking up of men in uniform.