SEPTEMBER 4, 1945
HYDE PARK, Monday—I have had several letters of late from mothers who feel that, now the war is over, their young sons 18 or 19 years old should not be drafted.
President Truman told us that in order to relieve the men who fought this war we will have to continue the draft. Certainly, no one feels that the men who have been away from home and borne the brunt of battle should be kept away from home one day longer than is absolutely necessary.
One of my correspondents, who is typical of others, tells me that she does not feel it right to take a boy of 19 out of his home, for he is still a baby and should not be exposed to the dangers of army life. I understand a mother's feeling and I understand how hard it is, when you have planned certain things for your boy, to have him taken away from home. I question very much, however, whether a boy who has not learned by the time he is 19 how to look after himself and decide for himself between right and wrong is going to be any safer away from home at 20 or 21.
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I hope very much that the day will come when all over the world no boy will have to prepare for war. But that is not the situation today. We are going to need trained men to occupy certain countries and see to it that the people of other countries do not again build up war machines. Since this is a necessity, we can only hope that out of this necessary military draft some goodwill come.
I notice, for instance, that after six months many a boy in training has gained weight and developed physically. At least we know that though a boy may be going far from home, he is not going to be a target for enemy bullets. Possibly the chance to see the world may bring him back with a greater appreciation of his own home and his own land, and a greater understanding of the needs of other human beings in other parts of the world. This will be valuable in making him a better citizen of his own country.
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Another correspondent has a rather different problem. Her boy is studying to be a doctor. If he is drafted into the military service, he will perhaps be too old on his return to finish his studies and start on his career. It seems to me that with certain professions where a thorough preparation requires a very long period of time, and where we know that we are in need of many recruits, exemptions should be allowed. We are in need of scientists, chemists, doctors, dentists and so on, and if they enter the service their training should go on within the service.