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And Dave gives us an on the spot story of the soldier demonstration which has occupied so much space in the newspapers of late. He says little about himself, which of course would be the most interesting news of all, but the very absence of such comments may of itself be reassuring. He says: “Everything was running smoothly – boats were leaving every day packed with boys bound for Frisco. Then the Daily Pacificcan (our Bible) came out one morning with the statement that a ship had left the day before with 600 empty births. There was the usual noise from the fellows – – maybe a little more vehement than usual, but nothing spectacular. The next day the Pacifican printed the story on Patterson’s statement that he didn’t know points had stopped as of VJ Day. Some of the guys laughed. Others (like me) could see nothing funny in it. How can one have faith in his government when the heads are so ignorant of their own particular departments! The third day the paper came out with the order that men had to be ELIGIBLE to go home on points. Anyone of these stories would have created the usual moaning from the man, but after two days in a row the War Department coming out with this new ruling! They couldn’t have picked a worse time psychologically for their statement. Some of the boys talked of protest but halfheartedly. They become passive in their feelings toward the government and the Army. You often hear, “What the hell!” Or “You can’t beat it”, in a way that shows they are too disgusted to even raise a finger.
The Red Cross holds a forum once or twice a week. Last Sunday’s discussion was the advisability of a peacetime draft. The boys weren’t thinking of this subject and the discussion gradually worked around to the latest government order. More stopped to listen to the arguments. Pretty soon the crowd got so big they went outside. The crowd grew still bigger. It was suggested they break up before there was trouble and they made plans to meet outside City Hall the following morning at 8:30. With a start of 25 at the forum Sunday night, and I don’t know how many at the 8:30 A. M. Meeting where a committee of five were chosen, they ended up Monday night with a group of 20,000 to hear a statement from Gen. Styer. He didn’t like the idea but his hands were tied. Unless these men cause trouble there was nothing he could do about it. That’s what thrilled me, Dad. These men weren’t a bunch of misled sheep that get panicky and cause trouble. They feel something definitely is wrong and that it can be corrected by concerted action. I’ll tell you frankly I didn’t go to any of these rallies because I was afraid there would be trouble. I have been very pleasantly surprised. According to today’s paper it looks as though we may get some action. I hope so.”
Tomorrow, a letter from Grandpa to Dave discussing this issue and other thoughts about Dave’s future.