AUGUST 23, 1944
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—One of the clippings which has been sent me starts with the following paragraph:
"As she ages, the feminine part of the Roosevelt presidency becomes wilder in her attempts to force American youths to follow the pattern of life she wants to dictate to them. Now she is starting to campaign for compulsory military training after the war for our boys and girls of 18 years of age. She says 'our youngsters must get it into their minds that they have a responsibility to their country."'
In the two columns which I have written in the last two days, I have tried to express clearly why we should have a little different emphasis and perhaps call on some new methods to help us all to be better citizens in our great democracy.
But one thing I hope I have made very clear, and that is that everything which I say is only in the form of suggestions. These are made in order to interest people and bring about discussion. When some concrete plans are actually suggested by those who properly have the responsibility for such suggestions, there will then be among us all an awakened interest and a background of thought and discussion.
And now to this subject which was italicized in the paragraph quoted above—this terrifying subject of what part girls might play in a program of national service. No one is more conscious than I am that many a girl, when she finishes high school, will not want to leave home, and that her family, as well, will not want her to go from under their direct supervision.
It is possible, however, that a girl might give a year of service in her own community. Such service might well prove of value to the hospitals, or to some of the government agencies—local, state or national—which happen to be in the vicinity, or to some civic or charitable activity, dealing with child care or recreation, which needed personnel.
In any of these activities, a girl might learn many things which would be a help to her in her future life, either in her home or in work which she may undertake. Quite obviously, it would be useful to any woman to have a knowledge of local conditions, a better knowledge of nutrition or of sanitation, as well as some of the first principles of hygiene or nursing. Some girls might feel that they wanted to see something of their own country beyond their immediate surroundings; but this, after all, could perhaps be offered on a voluntary basis.
The essential thing, as I see it, is that we should think out ways to increase our participation in government.