Your letter written on the 17th but not postmarked until 1:30 PM on the 19th arrived at my office in Bridgeport on the 23rd, probably saving a day in transit over Trumbull delivery. I am a bit concerned as to what might transpire between some hard-boiled government conscription agent, with no imagination or sympathy from an honest differing viewpoint and a man like yourself with deep rooted convictions. The trouble is the rules have to be made for the masses and where there will be one who is sincere in his objection there will be 999 who will use your same arguments to escape military service if they think they can get away with it, and if you can get by, so can they. The local boards everywhere would be continually in a sweet mess. It seems to be one of those cases found in democracies as well as in totalitarian countries where the rights of the individual have to be subordinated to the rights of the majority. Unfortunately as long as there are Hittlers and Stalins and Mussolinis and Hirohitos or whatever the name of the Jap symbol of the equivalent is, just so long will there be, forced on decent people of peace and idealism, the necessity of defending themselves. It’s foolish to try to argue with a rattlesnake or and infuriated Kodiak bear. Be you ever so eloquent, your cause ever so just, your arguments ever so lucid, it is absolutely futile to debate the question while they are attacking. There is only one thing you can do and that is to bring all the force and power and might you can muster in defense. We live in a fool’s paradise if we think any other language will be understood. The little nations tried it. There must be young men in Belgium and Holland who have the same ideals as you, or rather had them. I wonder if they still feel as they did. I wonder if you would still feel as you do if the steamroller ran over you as it did them. I don’t mean that we should not hold to our ideals but that we must be prepared to fight for them if the other fellow insists on fighting to force us to accept his ideals in place of ours. And if we must fight, it is far better to know how to fight skillfully and fight to win to hold our ideals. I think you might easily overlook the end result in getting too worked up as to the merits of the means to the end, if you get what I mean. I would like you to hold to your ideals of union now, etc., and not get shipwrecked on the way to your port by running on some reef of minor importance that looms very big in front of you and obscures all else. Or to put it another way, it is better to fight to preserve the opportunity to later help to put the ideal across that it is to let the juggernaut run over you. There is not much persuasion in a corpse. I am naturally not at all desirous of seeing any of my boys used as cannon fodder, being in this, strangely, like the majority of parents, but I also believe that their best protection lies in being trained, first because their very readiness en masse will give the other fellow pause before he sets off the dynamite, and second, because a man trained to properly defend himself is far less apt to be such cannon fodder. But enough of this.
Your letter about Anchorage’s hospitals, doctors, etc., is very reassuring. Dr. Laszlo, who expected to hunt in Alaska this fall, has changed his plans but expects to possibly make a visit there in February and if so, thinks it very likely he will go to Anchorage.
The suspense of waiting for your story on the trip to Alaska is terrible, but there is nothing we can do about it here except to hope that some fine day before long the expected will come to pass and you will be delivered of a healthy bouncing baby booklet, and thus Dan’s prophecies will finally have come to pass.
It was old Dan McGrew, when Alaska was new
Who was fabled in story and song
Now another young man, his first name is Dan
With segars and sly quips comes along
It is plain to us all that this young man’s downfall
From smoking big black strong cheroots,
Will come when his boss, sees the big double cross
He gets from his boys in cahoots.
And that’s all for tonight.
I’ve got something special planned for tomorrow but I’ll let it be a surprise.
Next week I’ll be posting letters written in 1941 after Lad has come home from Venezuela and Dan and Ced have been joined in Alaska by Dick.