AUGUST 17, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—We thought we had accomplished something quite extraordinary this past Sunday morning—we actually took the four younger children to church all at the same time, and they behaved quite well. One of them squirmed a little and looked backward as much as forward, but by and large I thought it was a successful experiment.
Perhaps it was going to church yesterday morning which reminded me of the fact that I had not yet told you that since writing on the Merchant Marine I have had a number of letters. Some people, many of them women, whose husbands were in the Merchant Marine feel that I was not fair in evaluating benefits received by the men in the regular Navy and by the men in the Merchant Marine. I also seem to have given one entirely wrong impression; namely, that I felt everyone had enlisted in coastwise trade. I meant to make it quite clear that this was only a small percentage of men, but that since they ran much less danger they should not receive equal benefits. One man sent me a comparison very clearly put of the actual returns to the two classifications, and I would like to publish it here:
"John Doe, O.S.U.S.N. Gun crew on merchant ship.
Yearly pay around $840. Clothes furnished for any and every kind of weather. Medical attention for anything and everything and pay while getting it. Cigarettes from everywhere. Furloughs with pay. All kinds of entertainment. One-half railroad fare. On his discharge a bonus from the government and many of the states as well. Social security for a year if he wished to take it. Veterans preference in Civil Service. College and mechanical education. Medical attention as long as he lives. Compensation for various disabilities.
"John Doom, P.S.U.S. Merchant Marine.
Yearly pay around $3500. If he worked a straight year, which most of them did not. Paid for his own clothes. When he loafed he took care of himself. Assuming that he quit when the war was over he cannot get medical attention even in the U.S. Marine Hospital which was originally established by donations from the monthly pay of the merchant seaman. And for further information to any and all concerned a merchant seaman cannot get treatment in the hospital if he is away from the ship two months, even at the present day.
"If any fair thinking person will give the above comparisons a just consideration I think they will agree with me that your U.S. merchant seaman could be given a few of the favors that were granted to others especially medical attention in these hospitals that were established by his forebears."
What this really shows is that this is a question which should be given a great deal of careful thought and that certain things should probably be equalized and particular cases should have special attention. If ever we should have the misfortune to have another war, two things will inevitably happen—if men are conscripted, capital will be conscripted and everything which sails the seas will be in one service, I think.