AUGUST 22, 1944
HYDE PARK, Monday—There are many arguments in favor of a year of national service.
Many things would be accomplished even if it were just a year of military service. For instance the nations of the world would know that we were never again going to be caught unprepared—that at all times the young manhood of our country was in condition with sufficient training, to protect the nation and to prevent any surprise attacks. Our equipment would be modernized and adequate.
* * *
There also would be the advantage, under any circumstances, that young men from all groups which make up the citizenship of the nation, at an early and impressionable age, would be thrown together. They would get to know each other and differences in background and environment would melt away. There is also the possibility of teaching young men how to take care of themselves in the open, if they have not had opportunity in civilian life.
Every man in every nation has always felt that, in time of war, it was his duty to protect his country; and the man who did not feel this obligation usually was looked down upon by his compatriots. But many people in our country, as well as in other countries, have grown up with far less sense of obligation toward their peacetime citizenship. The statistics on voting alone prove this. The fact that over and over again you can ask a group of people to name their representatives in Congress and get no reply, shows that we as citizens are not aware of the same passionate patriotism which must be devoted to peace as it has been to war.
* * *
If we hope for peace in the future, this sense of knowing that we have an obligation as citizens to be responsible day by day for our representatives, to leave any community we are in richer for our presence, must become evident to us all. Perhaps this knowledge might be advanced if a year of service were not purely military, but included a development in the knowledge of conditions within the areas in which training was given, as well as an understanding of government problems in those areas and a sense of having contributed in some way to their solution.
These are just things I hope Americans will think about as they discuss the National Service Act. There is one more aspect of the subject which I would like to bring to you tomorrow.