Sunday, November 23, 2014

Compulsory Voting, Military Training, Citizenship Needed To Preserve Our Nation, 1918

“War Talks By Uncle Dan,” from the Jan. 17, 1918, issue of the French Broad Hustler

Jimmie and a German Boy Clash….Must Do Three Things to Save Country

It was a warm evening, so Uncle Dan went out to a lawn seat under the spreading branches of the great tree that suggested the farm’s name of Oak Hill. Billie and Jimmie had been laying for him, so Uncle Dan was captured by the boys on short order.

“Say, Uncle Dan,” Billie began. “We had a red-hot argument at school yesterday with Carl Newman. Carl said that German schools were miles ahead of our schools and that no one could come up to the educated German. Well, Jimmie got hot under the collar and handed it back to him good and plenty. Jimmie said if their education taught them to torpedo Lusitanias, sink hospital ships, murder hundreds of women and children, make slaves of the Belgians, poison wells, destroy fruit trees and commit all sorts of crimes, then we did not want that kind of education here. What do you think about it, Uncle Dan? I told Jimmie you spent a lot of time in Europe and knew all about schools, so give us your opinion.”

“Well,” replied Uncle Dan, deliberately, “the German schools are very thorough. They furnish exceedingly valuable and practical instruction. The industrial training given there is probably the best to be found. The schools as a whole, however, in my opinion, appeal to the head only, and never to the heart. The aim and trend is to make the individual blindly submissive to the Prussian plan of world domination. They teach that it is the destiny of Germany to rule the world, and that to the glory and advance of Germany, in this plan, all things must give way; that the Kaiser as head of the state can do no wrong if he carries forward the plan of world control.

Some of the greatest teachers and preachers even defend and justify her heartless crushing of Belgians and the many other atrocious crimes she has committed in this war. Thank God, our American education reaches both the head and the heart. It is an education with a soul, and w must maintain the high ideals we have fixed. In a word, in Germany, the people are taught that they exist for the government, while here the government exists to serve the people.”

“Just wait a minute,” interrupted Billie. “Say that again slowly, so I can write it down.”

Uncle Dan smilingly complied.

Billie exclaimed, “Now we will hand that nut out for Carl to crack. Carl, you know has a very smart father who keeps him posted on the German arguments. Carl said our government was only an experiment anyway; that it would not last 20 years, and that it might burst up any old time. Jimmie asked him if Germany was so mighty good, why did they not go back there to live.”

“Our government will go on forever, won’t it, Uncle Dan?”

“Now,” said Uncle Dan, “you are raising a big question, and one that has troubled me for years. Our government is still in the experimental stage. In fact, it is the greatest experiment ever undertaken, and if popular government is to be successful, a few things must be done, otherwise, to paraphrase the great Lincoln, the government of the people, by the people and for the people will perish. It is my firm conviction,” said Uncle Dan in a very impressive manner, “that if our country is to go on, as we hope and pray, we must very quickly to at least three things, and I will name them in the order of importance as it appears to me:

“First, adopt compulsory universal military training of all young men physically fit before they reach the age of 20 years.

“Next, require that every foreigner who comes here to live must within a reasonable time, say a year, declare his intention of becoming an American citizen and take the necessary steps to do so, thereby, from that moment, assuming all the obligations of citizenship of our country, and that means he must defend our flag upon equal terms with our native born, and if he is not willing to do this, he should be sent back from whence he came.”

“That’s the stuff,” exclaimed Billie.

“And, finally, enact such legislation as will make voting compulsory. Popular government is based upon the participation of all and the rule of the majority, and democracy cannot continue and be successful unless we live up to the spirit of the institution.

“The first step, however, is the passage of the Chamberlain bill for universal military training. If you will get the leading citizen, and especially the editor of your paper, to write personal letters to your congressman and both senators, urging their support, it will help enormously.

“I see by the morning papers,” said Uncle Dan, “that the Rotary clubs of the entire country, the livest, most efficient organization to be found, have unanimously decided to get back of the Chamberlain bill and give it loyal and enthusiastic support. The will work with the Universal Military Training league to accomplish this important piece of legislation, which will do more than anything else to make us a real nation with a common viewpoint, bring us back to sane living, and teach us the patriotism of service.”

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