FEBRUARY 19, 1951
NEW YORK, Sunday—I got back early yesterday morning from Chicago to face a mountain of mail that one day's absence had accumulated on my desk.
The dinner given by the Southside Community in Chicago as a salute to Roosevelt College was a complete success. A check for $18,000 was presented to Dr. Sparling, the president, and I am sure more money is still coming in. The really important thing about the dinner was the sense of goodwill and brotherhood which ran through everything that was said. It was evident that Dr. Sparling, who had dared to live up to his ideals of brotherhood and equal opportunity for all, had gained recognition for his college in five years. Even more important was the fact that these ideals were found worth preserving by the whole community, and it is now proved they can be preserved if you have the courage and believe in freedom and justice for all. It was a most inspiring and exhilarating evening.
I was also glad of the chance to see Mrs. Edith Sampson, who was my co-worker on the last delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. She is working hard to promote knowledge of the U.N. and support for the foreign policy of the United States and our cooperation with the U.N.
Perhaps it was because the importance of justice was still in my mind that I was impressed by the contents of a letter I found in my mail. We all know, I imagine, that aliens residing in the United States are eligible for Selective Service, whether or not they have applied for citizenship. Once in the Army, however, aliens are ineligible for officers training, because they are not citizens. They can not rise from the ranks on an equal basis with other men, nor can they take positions in many specialized fields, no matter what their qualifications may be.
If an alien should decide he prefers to return to his own country and to volunteer for service in that country, he must first sign a special Selective Service form that practically brands him a draft evader and forbids future citizenship in the United States. In practice it also prevents re-entry into the United States if he should leave this country; and of course, if he should remain he would be subject to internment at any time.
During the last war a special Act of Congress was passed, called "The Second War Powers Act," which permitted all aliens who were serving or had served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces to apply for full and immediate citizenship. After the war this was replaced by a new naturalization act which gave even more complete coverage. On June 3, 1948, full citizenship was granted by this act on application to all aliens who had served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces during the first World War and during the second World War.
I suppose many things have had to be done rather hurriedly of late. At any rate, since hostilities broke out in Korea and the draft laws came into operation again, no short-term naturalization has been made available to aliens serving in our Army under the draft. It seems to me that this should be rapidly remedied by our Congress, since we are losing valuable skills and people who might be of great value to us are obliged to serve in positions for which they are not in any way fitted. Surely Congress will move, and move quickly, to right an injustice of this kind and to increase the efficient use of personnel in our Armed Forces.