The Pittsburgh Press (May 27, 1941)
CANDIDLY SPEAKING —
Women have lots of work important to defense
By Maxine Garrison
Women are making a great to-do right now about their part in national defense. Some of them apparently have visions of themselves dressed up cute as Christmas in chorus-girl uniforms, learning how to be sharpshooters, forming ambulance corps, in general playing exciting, even glamorous, roles.
All this, even though it has been indisputably proved that any resemblance between war and the musical comedies which glorify it is purely coincidental. The girls think it would be “cute” to drill Army-style, to practice winging descending parachutes, to build air-raid shelters in their backyards.
They may be asked to do some of these things. They may be disappointed when the task turns out to be more drudgery than fun. Or they may find themselves merely getting in the way of more logical plans for home defense.
In the meantime, there are certain points to which they might give sober consideration, plans they might make for action which, though not nearly so glamorous, would do more to bolster national morale than fancy drilling.
Improved standards needed
The high percentage of men turned down for the draft as physically unfit points to a definite need for improved health standards. With our laboratories and vitamins and daily dozens, we’ve come to be pretty complacent about health. We thought we could walk on Mount Olympus with the ancient pluperfect gods and goddesses and not suffer by comparison.
We found we were wrong. Perhaps we weren’t paying as much attention to vitamins and daily dozens as we thought we were. Perhaps we just read about balanced diets, but didn’t go to the trouble to follow them. Perhaps our fondness for fresh air was a spasmodic passion, extending only to one long hike every six months, or watching a couple of tennis games during the summer.
There is no doubt that a great many people in this country cannot afford health precautions the more fortunate take for granted, probably don’t even know about them. Women who are inspired to do things for their country, and have the time to spend even if they didn’t have much money, might learn what they can do for the underprivileged as well as for their own families.
Young people today plead that cynicism and callowness have been forced upon them. They claim that they have been taught that there is no such thing as sin, that religion is a myth, that if brute force can win, it deserves to win, that nothing really matters from the “long” viewpoint.
Problem for women
How, they say, can they be expected to believe in anything, in the light of such teachings? How can they respect the problematical right, honor virtue, believe in anything strongly enough to fight for it?
If such is the case, then surely here is a problem women might study for home defense. Home teaching is a part of education, and maybe mothers have relaxed discipline too much in their desire not to be called stuffy and old-fashioned by their children. Maybe they should be more interested in what the children learn at school, help them interpret book knowledge in the terms of living.
These things are dull and tedious tasks perhaps, when compared with the “excitement” of air raid drills, sharpshooting, ambulance-driving, canteen work. But they’re the things we have to live with, war or no war, and they are vitally important to home defense at any time, crisis or no crisis.