NOVEMBER 24, 1961
HYDE PARK—We have just put into history another Thanksgiving Day, and I hope that this year people approached this purely national holiday with more solemnity than they have in the past.
To be sure, we always have been reminded that this was a day commemorated by our forefathers, who had landed in New England, for the bounteous harvest they were able to produce from seed corn loaned them by the Indians.
Our forefathers probably shot a wild turkey for their thanksgiving meal, and they certainly gave heartfelt thanks to the Lord for watching over them in those difficult days.
We are probably thankful in a different way this year, but we should be particularly grateful for the mere fact that we are alive. The dangers threatening the world are probably no greater than the dangers faced by our forefathers, but they extend over a much greater area and our knowledge of them is much more comprehensive.
We know every move and every situation in all parts of the world, and in spite of this knowledge and the fears it brings, we can be thankful that we are not blinded to them.
Unawareness of immediate danger is, of course, why reservists recalled to active duty protest that they would be more useful at home on their jobs and supporting their families. The protests have been so numerous that it was not surprising to find the suggestion at Fort Dix, N.J., that unemployed young people be called into the Army first, permitting older men to carry on with their jobs.
It appears that the army is doing the same kind of classification job it has always been famous for. Here is a letter that has just come my way:
"I am a member of the Reserve and my unit has been activated. I am 23 years of age and married. In civilian life I am a commerical artist.
"During my six months of active duty I spent eight weeks in school receiving cook's training and classification. On my recall to active duty with a quartermaster unit, I have been reclassified and will supposedly be retrained to become a sewing machine operator.
"My request for transfer to a special service unit which had something to do with advertising or art was quickly denied. This example has now become the rule of thumb for many returning reservists. It is my hope in writing this letter that the public will realize that we have been recalled as a 'number' and not to fill an essential spot."
This is the type of thing that happened over and over in the last war. Then, because we were at war, there was some excuse because of the press of work that had to be accomplished quickly. But now is the time when we can show how efficient the Army can be and how well it can improve an individual's chance of earning a living on return to civilian life.
Those called into service today are called as a precaution. There is no excuse for a waste of their experience. The army certainly does not wish to give everyone the feeling that he is bound to be killed and it, therefore, does not matter what he does.
Some thought also should be given to those men who feel that unemployed young persons should be called into service first, particularly if the service will offer valuable training for later life.
I hope that more of us than ever have, on this Thanksgiving Day just passed, dedicated ourselves to an active interest in our government and, by so doing, will make the government more responsive to the needs of its citizens and more efficient in meeting those needs.