DECEMBER 19, 1956
NEW YORK —President Eisenhower is without doubt genuinely trying to keep peace in the world. But would it not be well to examine the various ways in which we might sustain our strength and build a firm foundation for self-defense?
First, the health of the nation as a whole seems to me the basic foundation of a strong defense.
The draft has shown that a great many of our young people—and this holds good for girls as well as boys—come to draft age suffering from some defect which prevents their entering the military service. This defect often might have been remedied when the boy or girl was very young, but for a number of reasons the necessary medical attention was not given.
Somehow the doctors of this country should be urged to get together with the Public Health Service to devise ways and means so that no child, rich or poor, fails anywhere along the line to be given the proper medical care to prevent a curable disability . This is the basis of a strong nation.
Then comes the question of learning how to use conventional weapons and the basic training needed for a conventional war in which atomic weapons are not used.
I am told by good authority that from three to six months' training would prepare any youngster of 18 to adequately meet the call for defense at any time.
Why could not this training be given every youngster in the summer after he reaches the age of 18? Thereafter, for a period of 10 years, he would be on call for any emergency and would be expected to return for a two weeks' refresher course every summer.
Our businesses would have to cooperate in this effort by allowing every man during this period a month's summer vacation with pay, two weeks of which would be used by the government.
It might be that certain exceptions would have to be worked out. For instance, if we felt the need for training along specialized lines such as medicine, engineering or science, the training received in the regular educational process would be considered as preparation for this special service.
Every physically fit boy would be subjected to the same requirements. This would be the democratic way and it would ensure an enormous reservoir of manpower, enabling this country to meet any threat not of an atomic nature and obviating the use of atomic weapons, which I do not think would be any more advantageous for the Soviet Union than for any other nation in the world.
If we proceed with our present policy, however, we will be making it impossible to fight anything but an atomic war. That seems to me a very dangerous policy for the future of mankind.
If Secretary of State John Foster Dulles really felt he could give the President an encouraging report on the NATO conference, he certainly must have some facts not disclosed in the reports I have seen.
The situation concerning our position in Europe and in Asia is being reevaluated and the talks now going on with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India are of extreme importance.
Nehru, I am told, has announced that he is not going to try to mediate the differences between Red China and the U.S. It would seem there are enough complications to be discussed without adding this one, but we will all await with great interest the results and the clarifications which, I hope, will be forthcoming from these conversations.
(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 19, 1956
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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