DECEMBER 21, 1946
NEW YORK, Friday—The other day, I wrote about the shortage of nurses and teachers. Just how are we going to inspire the young people of this generation with a desire to be teachers, nurses or doctors in rural communities, where these are most needed and where, at the present time, they are very scarce?
It is obvious that one thing is necessary. Young people in our communities will have to want to be of service. It will have to mean more than being a success in the field of business or even in certain more lucrative professions. Our young people will really have to have a vision which makes it seem worthwhile to earn the kind of monument which, I remember reading, was accorded years ago to an obscure rural doctor.
When he died, there was no money in the community to pay for the conventional stone to mark his grave, and so, from far and near, each person who came to the funeral brought a stone as big as he could carry. The doctor had served many people in the course of his life, and many stones rose over his grave, until you had to raise your eyes to the heavens to see the top of his monument. All through his life, that was what he had made men do—raise their eyes to something higher than themselves.
If you have that doctor's philosophy, you are paid in a different coin from that which you can earn in any way except by serving your fellow human beings.
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Having such a philosophy may be the most important thing. But at the same time, we as a nation must recognize that, for this kind of service, a certain freedom from care is essential. Therefore, it seems to me that a floor should be placed under the earnings for teachers, doctors and nurses. And where local communities cannot keep their earnings above that floor, the government should perhaps step in and equalize, throughout the nation, the pay for those who are essential public servants and without whose efficient and devoted service no democracy can live and grow.
Essentially, of course, this is what many of those who believe in Federal grants to states for education have been trying to achieve for a long time. Where a State, out of its own revenues, is not able to provide equality of educational opportunity for all of its population, and where the standard of education is measurably lower than in other States, it is essential for the good of the country that the cost of providing this opportunity be spread over the whole nation.
No part of the country should be allowed to fall below the standards which provide a good basic education, since all children must have certain tools in order to develop their maximum abilities, not just for their own good, but for the good of the country as a whole.