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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, January 16, 1955, Image 108

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1955-01-16/ed-1/seq-108/

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fairest way to build up our military reserves,
which are now dangerously weak. Upon com
pleting six months of U.M.T.. many young
sters would be enlisted into the regular Army.
The hundreds of thousands not needed to keep
the Army up to its authorized strength would
go directly into a huge reserve force, and
would be required to remain in the active
reserves for several years, taking a certain
amount of refresher training from time to time.
Through U.M.T., we could build up a
ready-to-fight reserve of 2.000,000 men in
about five years. Eventually, we could main
tain a 5,000.000- or 6.000,000-man reserve if
that is considered necessary.
It isn’t even necessary for Congress to pass
a new law to bring this about. There’s a per
fectly good law on the bodes the Universal
Military Training and Service Act. This Act
was passed way back in June, 1951, and
promptly forgotten. Under the Act, U.M.T.
was supposed to go into operation as soon as
Congress gave the “go-ahead” sign. .But Con
gress has never given the signal. The Act will
die on June 30, 1955 unless our new Con
gress gives it a “reprieve.”
Defense Secretary Charles E. Wilson re
cently joined other high Administration, offi
cials in urging that U.M.T. be given a trial.
But it’s doubtful that the Administration’s
indorsement will carry much weight with
U.M.T.'s traditional opponents. For 10 years
U.M.T. has been receiving high-level support
from leaders of both parties. But no Congress
has ever put a U.M.T. law into effect.
"PowMhrf Pra—cta"
What are the chances that the 84th Congress
will take action on U.M.T. this time? 1 put
that question to Senator Lyndon Johnson of
Texas. Senator Johnson, the Senate’s new
majority leader, is noted for his ability to pre
dict how Congress will vote weeks before a
proposal reaches the floor. The Senator told
“1 am afraid prospects for U.M.T. are
I checked with other Senators and Congress
men from various sections of the country.
Without exception, they also doubted that
the new Congress would dust off the half-for
gotten U.M.T. Act and put it into operation.
What be the arguments for letting
, draft law just doesn’t
give us enough of them
I t
‘IN." The big question for today’s
teen-ager is, when will this happen?
U.M.T. die? Although the debate hasn’t
started yet. it's easy to answer that question:
“This is a democracy where the people rule,
and the people are against U.M.T.”
Those are the words of the widely respected
Edwin C. Johnson. Colorado's new Governor,
who was a bitter foe of U.M.T. during his long
Senatorial career.
A surprisingly similar viewpoint was ex
pressed recently by a strong supporter of
U.M.T.. Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont.
“The policy of Universal Military Training
has been one which the parents and children
of America have come to view as the negation
of the free life which is the ideal of Western
civilization.” Senator Flanders said, in a
speech favoring U.M.T.!
Some economy-minded Congressmen are
worried about costs at a time when the
government is pledged to a reduction in
spending. But the feeling that the voters
won’t stand for the law is still the biggest
What basis is there for this feeling?
1 spent six weeks pinning down the answer.
I started by checking with the Institute of
Student Opinion, an organization which con
centrates on discovering what teen-agers think
Now at long last, we must ltuild such a
reserve. And we must maintain it. Wish
I .Hi \ !
o2?ood o ■ oo c
Witte Wt i
about controversial questions. It is sponsored
by Scholastic Magazines, a major publisher of
magazines for use in classrooms. The Institute
sends out printed ballots, and gets the help of
thousands of teachers in its polls of the coun
try’s teen-agers. The students vote by secret
The Institute’s 1954 poll on Universal
Military Training was one of the biggest it
has ever taken. The ballots were marked by
48.399 high-school students in 48 states.
Axmasmg BipHai .
Here’s how the Institute phrased the ques
“Under present world ewnditions. do
you favor the general principle of rom
pulnory military training for all lit young
And here are the amazing replies:
Sixty-six .per rent of the high-schoolers
came out flatly in favor of U.M.T.
Eight per cent hadn't made up their minds.
Only 26 per cent one teen-ager in four
. opposed the idea of U.M.T.
Views of high-school girls included in the
poll almost exactly paralleled those of boys.'
These startling results among high-school
boys sent me searching for a guide to adult
opinion on the same question.
I examined the latest findings of Gallup’s
American Institute of Public Opinion. Here’s
the way Gallup's pollsters put the question
to a cross-section of the nation’s voters:
“Would you favor or oppose requiring every
able-bodied young man in the country, when
he reaches age 18. to spend one year in mili
tary training and then join the reserves?”
You’ll' notice that Gallup was asking the
country’s parents to make twice as great a
sacrifice as the U.M.T. bill provides - one
year of training instead of six months.
Yet. a whopping 72 per cent of the adults
said they favored this 12-month U.M.T.
Six per cent hadn’t made up their minds.
Only 22 per cent approximately one voter
in five opposed.
Most of the adults said they favored U.M.T.
because they felt it would keep the U.S. out
of war. They thought the additional military
strength would keep any potential enemy
from risking war.
I President Eisenhower has
said: “We have failed miser
ably to maintain that strong,
ready military reserve in
which we havfe believed or
professed belief for 150 years.
But what about tin- teen-agers? Why did
66 per cent of them vote in favor of U.M.T.?
I started checking with youngsters in all parts
of the country.
They soon convinced me tliat they knew
why U.M.T. liad been proposed and how it
would work. And they were able to tell me
exactly why they favored it or, in the case
of a sincere and vocal minority, why they
opposed it.
Tile one teen-ager out of four who disliked
U.M.T. seemed to settle on one of these
“U.M.T. would be asking for war.”
“It seems to me that this plan would make
America look like an aggressor nation ”
“I feel that compulsory military training
symbolizes the gradual swing of the United
States toward command by force. I feel that
the strength of a truly great nation does not
lie in military might."
"Six months of military training wouldn't
be of any value to either the hoys themselves
or to the country.”
."D*a|Ua« Men"
The range of arguments brought up by the
■66 per cent who favored U.M.T. was much
wider. Here's how they shaped up:
1. Thcv think it in iMWiwarv: "Let’s face
it," said “Butch” Fitzpatrick, of Salem, Ohio.
“These arc had times - three wars since
1914. I think we should train every eighteen
year-old who can pass a physical.”
In Saginaw. Mich.. Tom Dunning said: "If
we have a war with Russia, we’ll need all the
men we can get.”-
“If a crook knows that a man has training
in judo, and is proficient in it. he would think
twice before he jumped him for his wallet.”
said Donald Schurman, of Baltimore. “I think
the same printtple applies in international
2. They're' I i rent »»/ In-in a “dnogfiug men”:
"1 like the U.M.T. plan a lot better than
the draft set-up we have now,” 17-year-old
Huber* Gainer, of Philadelphia, told me.
"Under U.M.T.. you’d go right in at eighteen,
get your training over with, and get out..
Under the draft: you just have to hang around
and wait until the draft board decides it needs
Continued on next page
fill thinking and political timidity must
no longer liar a program mo absolutely
essential to our defense."
W hat is the best way to set up a sound
reserve program? Uongress has never put
a universal military training law into
effect. Hut look at these facts based on
recent surveys:

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