A railroad president not long ago said that he had not the time to take exercise or rest, that his salary was fifty thousand dollars a year, and that his company had just given him a bonus of fifty thousand; hence he could not shirk his responsibilities. He paid the full measure and was buried in six months from the time of the warning. In one issue of the New York Evening Post the following deaths were noted:
President Hyde, formerly of Bowdoin, fifty-nine years of age. Capt. Volney Chase, of the Navy, fifty-six years of age. Capt. Campbell Babcock, fifty years old. Colonel Deshon, fifty-three years old.
Our Cabinet officers and executives and the members of the Council of National Defense are likely to forget, in the excess of their patriotism and loyalty, that there is one edict higher than that of the greatest government in the world. When Nature gives an order there is no appeal to a higher court, and the excuse that a man has not the time to obey, or is doing something that his country most urgently needs, has no weight in that court. When Nature touches a man on the shoulder and says, “Stop!” he stops. The penalty of frayed nerves, overworked brains, and underworked bodies is failure of body and mind. The premonitory symptoms are irritability, quarreling, depression, fierceness and inefficiency of effort, and finally complete breakdown. Three to four hours a week physical exercise under a scientifically tested plan and arrangement will keep these men fit. Is the price in this emergency too high to pay?
Up to the time when this world conflagration started, a man’s physical fitness was merely a matter of individual interest. The general health of the community was important, but that fact was not sufficiently pressing to do much more than attract the attention of the health boards, and perhaps a few recently organized and semi-philanthropic bodies. But suddenly there flamed out a war in Europe, and at once the countries involved found that upon the physical fitness of the people would depend their lives and freedom. It was no longer an academic question. It became an immediate and vital fact.
In September of 1914 the writer placed the following suggestion on the top of his syndicate athletic article:
Guard your shores and train
Teach your growing youth to fight;
Make your plans ere once again
Ships of foes appear in sight.
Teach new arts until you hold
In your bounds all things you need.
Then you can’t be bought or sold;
From commercial bonds be freed!
If Manhattan rich you’d
If your western Golden Gate—
Train a field force, rule the wave.
Every day you’re tempting fate!