Letter to Mrs. W. H. Winslow from Marolta C. Pease (Haven School), Chicago, Ill., Sept. 5, 1919, Agnes Nestor Papers, Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, Illinois

transcription/facsimile letter

Chicago, Ill., Sept. 5 1919

Mrs. W. H. Winslow,

River Forest, Illinois

Dear Madam:

I am the Head Assistant of Adult and Foreign classes now located in the Haven School, at 1472 S, Wabash Avenue. Since the close of the war over one hundred illiterate or non-English speaking wounded or disabled soldiers have been assigned to our classes.

They were sent to use to learn English and the elementary subjects before being taught a new trade or vocation, which it would be necessary for them to learn, as all of them are unfitted to earn their living by their former occupation.

The new law enacted by Congress relative to the rehabilitation of these former soldiers offers them a good allowance during their period of training, but, on the other hand, the illiterate or foreigner cannot be educated except in conjunction with the learning of a trade or vocation.

The man who has lost a leg, an arm, or perhaps one eye, or who is so weakened as to be unable to stand long, to lift heavy weights, or to do any of the heavy manual labor to which he has been accustomed is much restricted in his choice of a trade, unless he is allowed a little time to learn our language, or to acquire an education equivalent to our fifth grade.

A child in Illinois must have complete fifth grade, before he is given a work certificate. Should not the soldiers who have sacrificed so much be allowed equal opportunities?

Could you hear these men plead for an education, I am sure you would use your influence to pass a law that would make it possible for the disabled soldier to have a fair chance to earn a decent living.

As one fine-appearing Polish man who has done the work of four grades in three months says: "There isn't much a fellow can do with only one arm and no education".

Many of these men are between twenty and twenty-five, their minds are alert and active, although uneducated they are apt pupils and learn very quickly. They are so eager for a little education, but they are so handicapped both physically and mentally that they cannot take care of themselves, and yet they have sacrificed so much for our country. It was not their country, for many of them took out their first papers, that they might fight for the United States.

They have such faith and confidence in our government, that they believe they will be educated so that they may care for them- selves. This is a critical time in their lives. They can be made valuable citizens, self-respecting and useful to the community, or they may become bitter and anarchistic, with a hatred for the government that does not do its best to over their terrible handicaps.

Won't you use your influence in behalf of these thousands of young men, that they may be trained into useful and happy citizens?

Yours very respectfully,

(Mrs.) Marolta C. Pease.