OCTOBER 24, 1947
NEW YORK, Thursday—I've received a letter from a woman berating me because I said I approved of universal military training. She thinks we are going against the laws of God and man when we call young men of 18 into the service, and the idea that boys of that age might be called for a year of military training fills my correspondent with horror.
I have never been quite sure that in the atomic age it is quite necessary to have what is known as basic training, but I am quite sure it would be good for us to spend a year learning discipline, checking on ourselves physically and mentally, and learning such things as are needed by a citizen of the United States no matter what our service may have to be.
I used to argue with my husband as to whether what is usually understood as universal military training would have much weight in the light of the discoveries of modern weapons of war. But as to every man—and every woman, too—in a democracy giving a year of service to their country, that I feel would be of value to us, one and all.
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The other evening, I went to the theater and saw a very remarkable performance, "Command Decision," a play which reminds me of the best war plays produced after World War I. It presents the problems of war on the command level, bringing vividly before us the struggle for preparing us between World War I and World War II—the struggle for a change in our thinking on armaments and defense.
Always before, our defenses had meant land and sea forces. The argument that these were outmoded in favor of air forces was so revolutionary that the men within the services who fought for recognition of this now self-evident fact were looked upon as "crackpots." And they were usually exiled to remote spots where they could do no harm with their strange ideas!
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Yesterday, in a full meeting of Committee No. 3 of the General Assembly, not one dissenting voice was raised against the Economic and Social Council's report on the international Children's Emergency Fund. This unanimity was so unusual that a number of speakers commented on it.
The previous afternoon, in a subcommittee meeting, we had spent hours arguing about procedure, until finally one of my advisers was moved to write a verse, to be sung to the tune of "Sur le Pont d'Avignon," on the subject of what we did with procedure in the United Nations! At last, however, we closed with the decks cleared for action at our next subcommittee meeting.
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I want to thank the many kind friends who sent me cards or small remembrances on my 63rd birthday. I no longer have the staff to acknowledge each one individually, but I am most grateful for your kind thought and I want to assure you that I feel no older than I did a week ago.