AUGUST 25, 1952
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It is difficult for us, who are not accustomed to thinking of our men as being scattered overseas in peacetime, to realize the need that now exists for the United Defense Fund to establish new USO services in overseas communities.
The Army and Navy always carry on recreational services on their posts for the men in the services, but in World War II it became necessary for other services to be provided in various communities where our men went on leave. It is much easier not to get into trouble if you know there is a place to go where you are welcome and where you will find a friendly atmosphere and recreation provided for you. With young men now stationed in various areas, it has become evident that something was particularly needed to help bring about closer and friendlier relationships between American servicemen and the residents of the communities near which they are situated.
A new phase of the USO service is just being set up in Europe and North Africa. John Pixley, formerly deputy director of youth and community activities on the staff of the U.S. High Commissioner for Occupied Germany, is in charge. Headquarters will be set up in Paris. The program will be organized in at least five key centers in addition to the places where units are already functioning, such as Athens, Istanbul, Heidelberg, Nice and Rome.
Emphasis will be placed on bringing American GIs in contact with the best moral and social forces of the community in which they are stationed. Wherever possible, native residents will be asked to serve on the USO committee with American residents and people representing USO agencies overseas. The first objective will be to provide a varied, off-post recreation program, using local facilities and developing the cooperation of local communities. The committee will be invaluable in recommending the type of activity that should be undertaken.
An effort will be made to recruit volunteers in each area to help out in information centers, to organize sightseeing tours and to take charge of snack bars. If this can be done, it may be one way of promoting understanding and friendship between the people of our country and the people of different countries where our boys are stationed.
These GIs, sons and husbands and brothers of ours, are ambassadors to peoples all over the world. In themselves they stand for democracy, and what they are and what they do comes to exemplify what the U.S. stands for in the minds of the people whom they meet throughout the world. They may well be doing one of the best jobs that can be done for peace by meeting and themselves coming to understand the people of other nations. We, in the U.S., have almost forgotten that the USO might be used in peace as well as in wartime. We will have to remember that this organization is dependent on voluntary contributions. It is a member of the United Defense Fund and this fund in many communities is supported by the Community Chest or by some other community campaign. When it is being talked about in our community, we must remember that its support is vital to our men in foreign lands.