MARCH 10, 1947
SAN FRANCISCO, Sunday—Some time ago, a veteran's letter, under the title "Rehabilitation," was published in the New York Times by Dr. Howard A. Rusk, who did so much for our aviation forces during the war and has devoted himself to rehabilitation since the war. He published this letter because he felt that it represented "the totality of spiritual rehabilitation."
The boy in question is still very young and is what is known as a paraplegia, which means he is paralyzed from the waist down. At the time he wrote the letter, he was still at Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island. He is now at home with his mother and is developing, I am told, a real talent for writing. By spring, he will be able to drive a car.
With Dr. Rusk's permission, I am reprinting the letter because I feel it is the kind that people need to read not once, but many times:
"My name is John Crown. I am a paraplegia at Halloran General Hospital. My physical wounds are very small in comparison with my spiritual wounds. I have come back from death to a world that I no longer care for. I, who have been engaged in the great struggle to save the world from tyranny and having seen my comrades die for this cause, can now find no peace in the world or in my country.
"Having lived close to death for two years, the reasons why there is no peace seem infinitesimally flimsy. Russia wants the Dardanelles, Yugoslavia wants Trieste, the Moslems want India, labor wants more wages, capital wants more profit, Smith wants to pass the car in front of him, Junior wants more spending money. To these, I say, is it necessary to kill and cripple human beings for these petty gains?
"Anyone who thinks a human body is so cheap that it can be traded for a tract of land, a piece of silver, or a few minutes of time should be forced to listen to the moans of the dying night and day for the rest of his life.
"All the troubles of the world originate in the common man. The selfish and greedy ways of nations are just the ways of each individual man multiplied a hundredfold. When the morals of the common man drop, so do the morals of the nations and of the world.
"As long as our individual morals remain at a low ebb, so will be the world. Until each of us stops 'hogging the road' with his car, stops fighting over the seat on the bus, stops arguing over who is going to cut the grass, there will be no peace in the world. If man wishes peace again, he must return to the great Commandment, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself for the love of God.'"