Monday, March 25, 2019

Draft Revealed Poor Shape of Today's Youth, March 25, 1919

From the editorial page of The Monroe Journal, Tuesday, March 25, 1919

The American nation was startled first and then dismayed and disheartened when the selective draft showed that our young men were fast becoming weaklings. The great per cent of young men who were found to be either physically or mentally unfit for military duty was like a fire alarm at night. 

The utter change that the customs of the country has undergone in the last 25 years, the lack of sports, the absence of physical exercise, the ravages of disease, the cigarette, soda fountain, picture show, hot house lives, and the absence of everything calculated to produce manly vigor, have do devitalized the young manhood of the country that serious alarm has been raised. Not only has been felt upon the physical condition of the population, but like a canker it has eaten into the moral and mental stamina of the young. Now there is a great cry, lead by the National government itself, for better health, better physical habits, better eating and drinking habits, more clean living, more out of door exercise, and in short, more of everything that is likely to produce normal and happy and strong and efficient human beings. This work will begin with the infants in arms, nay with the mothers before the infants are born, and go all the way up through the schools, through young manhood and womanhood, middle age and old age, before we shall have succeeded in producing the vigorous and healthy manhood and womanhood that we once had. The coming era is to be the era of sane and happy living. The patent medicine habit and the dope habit and the ease habit must go the way of the liquor habit.

We hail with joy any proposition that tends to develop the spirit of outdoor sports. Baseball, the American game, has itself become professionalized and commercialized. It was once a real national sport before the day of professionalism. It should be encouraged in every community. We need hospitals but we also need playground and sane living and clean exercise to keep the population from falling prey to all the modern diseases that have developed as a result of wrong living. Every community should have ball grounds, tennis grounds, volley ball grounds, and all other kinds of grounds that will encourage the population to use them. What indeed shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? And what indeed shall it profit us if we have the means of living comfortable and happy lives if we let the inducement to languor and disease and physical laziness sap the vitality of life generally and cut down the three score and ten years of a man’s life to two score, which is becoming almost the dead line for the business and professional man, and the period of decay, ugliness and weakness of the women? Cosmetics cannot take the place of physical and joyous exercise in women any more than soft drinks and tea parties can make children grow up strong and manly and beautiful. The human body is a thing of marvelous beauty and efficiency when given a chance to be. Modern habits might well be defined as a conspiracy to enrich the medicine fakirs, the doctors and the sanitariums, and to sap and devitalize the physical, moral and mental efficiency of mankind.

Help the boys to have a ball ground and put a Red Cross seal on every middle aged man and woman who will stand for something better in the community than the present scheme of devitalization and efficiency.

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