The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—So much has been said about the Gaither report that there are beginning to be rumors, some of them really dangerous because they create anxiety without giving any kind of facts.

If we are lax and have fallen behind in our security in certain ways, we should be told clearly where we need to change, but rumors are no basis whatsoever for satisfactory reform.

I think the whole defense setup could bear some revolutionary thinking. I am not at all sure that it is a good idea to call up seven or eight men in the draft and then induct only one.

The one accepted gives up two or three years of his life to duty in the Navy, Army, or Air Force. Granted, the military career prepares him for other careers, but he will have to begin at the bottom when he gets out and the seven or eight others get off scot-free without lifting a finger for their country.

This seems to me unfair and a great waste of manpower. With the new atomic weapons and the quick changes as new discoveries are made, it seems to me that we need a strong, well-trained but small permanent force in which men take up a profession and stay in it throughout their lives.

Such a system would not be half so wasteful as the one we have today in which we train a man and then turn him back into civilian life to do another kind of work.

Our doctors should be thinking seriously how to bring about complete health care for the nation, which is necessary to bring the maximum number of people to the age of 18 or 21 in the best possible physical condition, and how to keep the rest of us in as good condition as is possible throughout our lives.

Our education system also should be directed so that at the age of 18 we would be able to tell something about the bent of a young man or woman coming up for military service. And this service, from my point of view, should be made universal, with every human being accepting training for six months so that he would be adequately prepared to meet a national emergency.

This would mean that, for some years after training, these young people would be required to return for two weeks once a year to be brought up to date and kept available for use in small conventional wars if the Soviets stirred them up without the use of atomic weapons.

Such methods would strengthen the young people both in peace and war and would make it much less likely that an atomic war would ever be attempted. To go on as we have been going is to think of fighting the last war, not to think of winning our battles by bringing about a peaceful world.

It is with regret that many people in this country will see Ambassador Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne of Norway leave his post in Washington.

He has been dean of the diplomatic corps for a long time and has been a staunch friend of the United States. His parting words were aimed at restoring confidence among the peoples of the world in the leadership of the U.S. and its ability to meet Soviet scientific developments.

Ambassador de Morgenstierne has been a fine diplomat. We see him leave with regret, but he takes with him our deep respect and affection.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 2, 1958

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.