JULY 13, 1955
HYDE PARK—I was very much interested in reading the story of the three former American soldiers who are returning from Communist China. I had previously read about them and others, as far as background is concerned, in the book, "21 Stayed," by Virginia Pasley.
There seems to be a great similarity, at least in the unhappiness, of the lives of most of these young men before they went into the Army. They could not have had any very good idea of what their country meant to them or of what the United States as a democracy meant to them and to the world, because most of them were escaping into the Army from a life they found none too pleasant.
It is true that many other young men with the same experiences do not react in the same way. But at the same time I feel that with many of these young men, whom we hope to see become good citizens of this country, we have got to take their backgrounds into consideration.
This trio returning home may need some punishment, but, far more important, I think they need a careful study by a trained individual to find how they can be helped to do better in the world they are returning to. It seems to me that they need education of every kind. Certainly not a maximum security prison should be theirs, but some place where a skill can be learned and where it is possible for someone to be chosen to make it his business to see that when they have been punished and trained they have the opportunity to go to work. Above all, they must be made to feel that there is some individual interested in their future.
In short, they should be given a reason to love their country and believe in it. If this does not happen we may well find that they become a burden on society as well as a potential menace.
* * *
What a nice photograph that was of three generations of Eisenhowers, published the other day, walking up the steps of the church in Gettysburg. It seems very appropriate that the soldier-son and the grandson of the President should pray with him for success at the coming Geneva conference. This "summit" meeting at Geneva promises to be a very momentous occasion which will affect deeply the two generations that accompanied the President to church.
As they toured the battlefield after church services grandfather-soldier may well have explained to the grandson what the difference between the Battle of Gettysburg is and a possible nuclear war of the future. The President may have explained how, as a civilian, he must try through this conference to preserve mankind from a destruction so much greater than the destruction of Gettysburg, though at the time it was thought Gettysburg was one of the great tragedies that our country had suffered.
* * *
There does not as yet seem to be real peace in the Argentine, and it looks as though being a dictator must be a very uneasy thing there just at present. We are so far away that it is hard to realize how many civilians have been killed or injured in the battles that have gone on in Buenos Aires in the last few weeks.
Judging from the accounts in the paper on Monday the Catholics in this area are among those who most ardently wish to get rid of President Peron. This demonstration was apparently raided by firemen using their hoses to cover the people with brownish tinted water and chemical foam. This is probably a better way to disperse a crowd than with the use of arms and the many arrests that only cause greater agitation until the people are released.
It might be well for President Peron to make the difficult decision of granting a democratic and constitutional form of government. This, of course, might mean his own downfall, but it would certainly mean the beginning of self-government, which would take time to establish but which someday must come about.