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The Lesson of Selective Service: 1941

The Lesson of Selective Service

BRIGADIER GENERAL LEWIS B. HERSHEY, Deputy Director, Selective Service System

Photo Courtesy of the U. S. Army
Photo Courtesy of the U. S. Army

Out of a million men examined by Selective Service and about 560,000 excepted by the army, a total of 380,000 havebeen found unfit for general military service. It has been estimated that perhaps one third of the rejections were due either directly or indirectly to nutritional deficiencies. In terms of men, the army today has been deprived of 150,000 who should be able to do duty as soldiers. This is 15 percent of the total number physically examined by the Selective Service System

It is perhaps of little use to speculate on what should have been done by our schools, by parents, by health bodies, or by the government. Probably the depression years left their marks. Undoubtedly the automobile and the cash it required for monthly payments and for gas, oil, and tires, has cost us as a people in physical fitness. Whether we are worse off physically than we were in 1917-18 is undoubtedly controversial. That our physical standards are higher now, let us admit. The fact remains that while we may be no worse now than twenty-four years ago we seem certainly to be no better. Better or worse or the me, we are physically in a condition of which we nationally should be thoroughly ashamed. It is a condition we should recognize as dangerous and which we should take immediate, positive and vigorous measures to correct.

Prevention is always better than cure. Far-reaching results will follow basic programs to develop our people physically. This is a long range task in which parents, schools, and government must each bear a part. I believe the most fundamental step must be a basic change in our conception of the nature of our educational system. We must place a decided emphasis on physical training and physical education. This recognition must be on a plane above the recreational level. Today we pay our tribute to outstanding athletes, but only as they entertain us. Our educational system must place the youth who has developed a perfect healthy body on a plane above the scholarship giant who in reaching this goal has ruined his eyes, his digestion, and his health in general.

America cannot be strong when half of her sons are substandard physically. America needs whole men, not half men. She must develop vigorous and healthy youths; she must prehabilitate those whose defects are slight; she must rehabilitate those examined and found deficient. The task before us, like all tasks in a democracy, is the duty and responsibility of each and every citizen. The Selective Service System by its very nature will play a vital part in the solution of this all important problem. It dedicates itself to a participation in the movement for a healthier citizenry.

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Hershey, L.B. (1941, July).  The lesson of Selective Service. Survey Graphic, 30(7), 383. Retrieved [date accessed] from /?p=11148.

Source: New Deal Network, http://newdeal.feri.org/texts/464.htm.  (March 11, 2014).

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