Editorial: U.S.O. (6-19-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (June 19, 1941)


By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Another set of initials to remember – U.S.O. It looks enough like Uncle Sam’s official signature to be its twin. In a way of speaking it ought to be.

United Service Organizations is the U.S.A.'s number one humanitarian project. Under the direction of six major national groups, all of which have done splendid work in your community, it asks for cooperation and money so that men in the service will know that civilians are remembering them. A former doughboy, speaking out of his own experience and heart, puts it this way:

No matter how nice it is, Army life is not the natural life for an American boy, and our soldiers are just that – American boys. As soldiers, they are being trained to defend our country, to fight and give their lives for our protection. Believe it or not, soldiers think about that sort of thing more frequently than you will ever know.

It’s a sort of hopeless feeling. A guy in training needs morale, pep, friendship, fellowship, relaxation. God help you if you give – God forgive you if you don’t. That’s the way I feel about it.

And that, probably, is the way we all feel. Honestly, my own emotional reactions go even deeper. I am ashamed that the good men and women of the United States have waited for a war emergency to recognize the great need of young people for wholesome recreational facilities, for that need has been so obvious everywhere.

In small towns where character-building groups do not function, thousands of boys and girls drift into evil ways. They move, aimlessly at first, into honky tonks, beer joints, dance halls, and gambling dens, where a large percentage stick for the balance of their lives.

The churches and the Y.'s, or their equivalents, have pleaded with us for help before. They will do so again when this emergency has passed. But it seems we can get steamed up on such an important issue only when boys face death and girls grief and hardship.

Democracy would be in a darned sight better shape, if, during the last 20 years, we had spent half as much time, money and energy on America youth as we have invested in less valuable property.

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