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Statement by the President Reactivating the United Service Organizations.

February 19, 1949

ON December 31, 1947, I granted an "honorable discharge" to the USO, the United Service Organizations. At that time I reserved the right to call on these organizations to serve the country again in time of need. The conditions which make it necessary for us to have a large peacetime defense establishment call for the reactivation of this agency as a civilian counterpart.

Although the wartime USO ceased operations on December 31, 1947, some 105 servicemen's clubs, lounges, and information centers continued to be operated by the six national agencies, with USO funds, in locations near military installations. USO funds also continued to support a program of live entertainment for 112 army, navy, and veterans hospitals, carried on by veterans hospital camp shows. All of this program will be maintained by the reactivated USO and, in consultation with military advisers, stepped up in areas where it is most vitally needed. In 1949 it is anticipated that USO operations, exclusive of hospital camp shows, will total between 140 and 150 units in the United States, Alaska, and Guam.

Those who volunteer their services to the USO or give to it, either directly or through their Community Chests, are discharging an obligation the entire public owes to our citizens who are only temporarily in service and will return to civilian life. It is, under no circumstances, a charity, but a great voluntary public service.

The USO lets our servicemen and women know that the people of the United States are behind them. It is evidence of our unwavering intention to keep this an army of democracy, with peace as its goal. We must never forget that the vast majority of our selectees and volunteers are mere youngsters in their teens. Of the approximately 2,100,000 men and women who will be in our defense forces this year, 60 percent will be under the age of 20. For them the USO is a strong and steady link with the homes from which they came and to which they will be returning. It is important to keep this home contact, with all that it means of wholesome influences, happy associations, and strong spiritual resources.

Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Reactivating the United Service Organizations. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229883

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