AlamogordoTownNews.com Judge Ellen Jessen Announces Candidacy and Meet the Candidate Events www.electjudgejessen.com

Judge Ellen Jessen declared her candidacy for the 12th Judicial District, Civil Division II on March 8, 2022. 

Judge Jessen has served as a civil Judge since July 2020, after being nominated by a bipartisan Judicial Selection Commission, made up of judges, attorneys, and members of the community. She is no stranger to the 12th
Judicial District, having served as a Domestic Relations Hearing Officer from 2017 to 2020. Previously in private practice in Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, she specialized in civil and domestic relations law. As an attorney for COPE from 2008 to 2012 she represented hundreds of clients in domestic violence, divorce, and parentage cases.

Judge Jessen credits her 25 years’ experience in civil and domestic relations law for Division II providing swift access to justice. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Catholic University of America and a degree in Business Administration from Wheeling Jesuit University. As for her philosophy, Judge Jessen says: “Swift access to justice is essential. Fair and impartial rulings are part of the fabric of our Constitution. It is my commitment to see that your rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, are protected and defended.”

The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 7, 2022. For further information on registering or updating to voter information, please contact www.NMVote.org. To learn more about Judge Jessen and her candidacy visit her website for “Views from the Bench and more at 

www.electjudgejessen.com 

To meet the candidate in person she has the following appearances scheduled…

Easter in the Park, April 16, Washington Park, 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

4th Friday at the Zoo, April 22, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Friday at the Zoo, May 27, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Earth Day, April 30, 10 – 6

AlamogordoTownNews.com Debra Scott Alamogordo’s First Black Girls Coach & First Girls State Title Winner

AlamogordoTownNews.com Celebrates Black History Months with its series, “The Spirts of Delaware Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico”. This article is the story of Alamogordo High Schools first black female coach and its very first state title in Girls Interscholastic Sports…

Many residents of Alamogordo, who have been in the community since the late 60’s, recognize the Scott name, for their visible community leadership within the Black community of the 60s, 70s and 80s. All the family was involved in various aspects of community and the educational community at large.

Ms. Scott’s father, a former military officer, was a pioneer at Alamogordo high school as a strict but compassionate guidance counselor. Her sister was respected and recognized for her many achievements including exceptionalism with the National Forensic League Speech and Debate Oratory events.

Debra Scott came up in the educational system during a period when women’s athletics were not funded by the schools and the only outlet for competition for girls was via the GAA (Girls Athletics Association.) In those days most girls’ athletics was not funded as part of the traditional school funding, The girls and their coaches had to do fundraising to fund the sports activities they participated in. Events held were limited in the sports offerings for girls.

As an example, Coach Bob Sepulveda re-created the White Sands Relays which in the 1950’s Coach Rolla Buck founded.

The first revamped White Sands Relay Race was in 1970 and was only for men. The second White Sands Relay was hosted in 1972. The second annual meet was opened to girls in 3 events, thanks to the encouragement of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda, to open it up to the girls. The second meet was opened to girls for 3 events and expanded drastically in subsequent years post GAA under Title 9.

GAA or meets under the Girls Athletic Association did not have the same prestige of interscholastic of the modern times of today but the competitors that did compete were fierce and created record times that would stand against any today.

Debbie Scott as a student athlete at Alamogordo High was one of those record holders and girls with significant promise in her athletic, and academic abilities under the mentorship of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and others.

Coach Scott told the Alamogordo News in a May 15th, 1974, article that; “she began running in the 4th Grade and has not stopped since. She claimed when Grayland Walsh tried to kiss her on the playground she learned to run and one year later was beating the boys in the 100-yard dash.”

Note: she was such a great runner that Coach’s Bob Sepulveda who coached the boys track team and Coach Marilyn Sepulveda who coached the girls’ teams agreed to allow her to train with the boys when running.

When researching the book; Coach Bob Sepulveda, The Early Days published by 2nd Life Media the author tells of many of the “boys of that time praised Debbie Scott.” Several boys said, “she used to embarrass them by how fast she was compared to them.” They said they’d get back to the locker room and they would get a ribbing about Debbie “whooping them, not only in speed but also in form.”

She often came in 1st in Elementary School relays and for the many years to follow in high school and college. She was a natural winner and had the discipline and passion for excellence.

She earned her 1st of 4 Presidential Physical fitness patches in the 6th grade and continued a tradition of winning thereafter.

Her parents enrolled her in dance lessons for 13 years and in piano lessons for 9 years. She continued learning dance for years after and teaching dancercise classes in the high school later in her career. Those students in reflecting, remembered this many years later, the Jane Fonda style dancercise classes conducted by Ms. Scott were unique, innovative and “great fun under Coach Debbie’s leadership.” Coach Bob Sepulveda said that “Debbie’s dancercise classes and his weight classes were the most popular offerings ever offered by the PE department” at least that is during his 30 plus year tenure at Alamogordo High School.

It takes a lot of time to be good at something and you have to be willing to sacrifice your social life for something you feel you’ll get just as much satisfaction out of”, she was quoted as saying to the Alamogordo News. Coach Scott believed the good outweighs the bad in athletics.

It allowed her to travel the country, meet many great people and gain accolades and confidence that she was able to pass to her students years later based upon her performance of excellence.

In 1973 in college, she went to the AAU nationals and was selected to the women’s All American Track Team. She held the state record for college level women in the 220-yard dash at 24.5 for several years and was rated 4th best in the nation in long jump in 1974.

An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding student players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best positional players in a particular sport, for a specific season.

Debbie Scott was the first female athlete to graduate from Alamogordo High School to gain that status as an “All American Track and Field Athlete.”

The designation of “All American” is administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. The selection rules are that the top eight finishers in each individual event, as well as American competitors who finish outside the top eight in their event but are among the top eight of the American finishers in an event, earn All-America designation. She qualified for her excellence in two events: the long jump and the 220-yard dash.

Her advice to other female athletes was, “If you have got talent or are just interested in sports, you should take advantage of the opportunities for women everywhere you can.”

While a student at Alamogordo High she competed in the last year GAA existed. She won multiple awards and medals placing often in the 100-yard dash, long jump, and other events. She ran often as an independent woman with the Duke City Dashers Running Club and set records in the Mile Relay and the 220.

Debbie Scott ran on a relay team with Alamogordo alumni Carolyn Patterson and Julia Fultz ranking 2nd at a Northern Colorado Invitational while attending New Mexico State University. New Mexico State University had 4 alumni of Alamogordo Girls Track & Field Team that competed: Debbie Scott, Carolyn Patterson, Julie Fultz, and Vicki Murray.

Upon graduation from college Debbie Scott was hired by the Alamogordo school system to teach and to coach. She would ultimately lead Alamogordo girls’ teams in Volleyball and in assisting Coach Marilyn Sepulveda in Track & Field to great success.

The early 70s was a transitional year for Alamogordo Girls Sports and for Debbie Scott who as an Alumni and then re-joined Alamogordo High School, but now as a teacher and a coach.

The passage of Title IX, the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act, expanded high school athletic opportunities to include girls, revolutionizing mass sports participation in the United States. Organized sports have long been an integral part of the American high school experience for boys. However, the same has not been historically true for girls. Indeed, girls only began playing sports in large numbers after the passage of legislation mandating gender equity in schools.

The first regulation stipulating the procedures for the implementation of Title IX were not released until June 1975. Some schools began interpreting and implementing Title IX prior to June of 1975.

Alamogordo High was one such school system that progressively moved forward with implementation prior to the full Federal rules rollout. From the 1950’s through the late 1970’s Alamogordo High School was considered “a progressive front runner in leading social change and a model for school systems across the country.”

Teacher and Coach Debbie Scott was named Head Volleyball Coach the 2nd year after girls’ interscholastic volleyball was introduced at Alamogordo High School.

She was the first African American Woman to lead a sports program in Alamogordo High School since organized sports began in 1912.

But that would not be her only first.

Under Coach Debbie Scott the Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team that she coached was the first of any girls’ sports team to achieve the status of winning a state title. Under her leadership the first state title in girls’ athletics for Alamogordo High School was achieved….

Marylin Sepulveda as track and field coach was the first to bring state trophies home placing 2nd place several times prior but it was Debbie Scott that broke the glass ceiling and brought home the 1st Red Trophy or 1st Place State Title in Girls Sports to Alamogordo…

Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team wins the State 1979/80 School Year

Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team wins the state competition in Santa Fe” read the local sports headlines.

Girls Volleyball Coach Debbie Scott was incredibly pleased that her girls who placed 2nd in the district meet then showed what they had, and came through, to win the state competition with a 1st Place showing a week later in the class AAAA girl’s tournament.

The tournament was deep, in steep competition, as their first round they drew state champion Santa Fe and were expected to lose. The Santa Fe Coach had said in a television interview the day prior that, “we will sail easily through the opening round against Alamogordo.”

With Debbie Scott coaching and rallying the girls forward,” the Alamogordo Tiger Girls roared and knocked Santa Fe right out of the action.

The final round they competed against Albuquerque Eldorado for the championship. The Tiger girls took the first game by a narrow margin of 15 to 11.

The 2nd game was even closer 16 to 14 but they won it and walked away with the state title.

Coach Debbie Scott was thrilled to receive the NM State Title Trophy at a hastily called assembly of the school and her girls that Monday morning. Many of the volleyball girls went on to play girls basketball the same year.

The girls that competed that very special weekend under the direction of Coach Debbie Scott had no way of knowing then that they were shattering glass ceilings, breaking the barriers of race and gender that once existed with the simple act of a volley across a net in Santa Fe.

A record of firsts places Debbie Scott into the books of Alamogordo History.

Coach and Educator Debbie Scott would continue at Alamogordo for several more years in leading the Volleyball team to victories and assisting with Marilyn Sepulveda as the assistant track and field coach for the Tiger girls and eventually also lead them with Mrs. Sepulveda to State title history.

Debbie Scott was and remains a pioneer of black history but more importantly a leader, an example and a pioneer in gender equality and the overall history of Alamogordo.

Ms. Scott now an educator, in another state, remains a recognized leader, an accomplished athlete and a name embedded into the annual’s fabric of Alamogordo history for eternity.

Black history is our history and the history that includes all of us!

This is one of the many tales of Alamogordo Sports History and Alamogordo Black History from our AlamogordoTownNews.com Series – “The Spirts of Delaware Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico”.

Author Chris Edwards – SourcesCoach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, Publisher 2nd Life Media, New Mexico Athletic Association, Diaries of Marilyn Sepulveda, Alamogordo Town News, New Mexico Coaches Association Archives

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Alamogordo Town News History Lesson Flag Day, Flag Code and Old Glory by Author Chris Edwards

Bernard Cigrand, a small-town Wisconsin teacher, originated the idea for an annual flag day, to be celebrated across the country every June 14, in 1885. That year, he led his school in the first formal observance of the holiday. Cigrand, who later changed careers and practiced dentistry in Illinois, continued to promote his concept and advocate respect for the flag throughout his life.

But prior to that when the American Revolutionbroke out in 1775, the colonists weren’t fighting united under a single flag. Instead, most regiments participating in the war for independence against the British fought under their own flags. In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to create the Continental Army—a unified colonial fighting force—with the hopes of more organized battle against its colonial oppressors. This led to the creation of what was, essentially, the first “American” flag, the Continental Colors.

For some, this flag, which was comprised of 13 red and white alternating stripes and a Union Jack in the corner, was too similar to that of the British. George Washington soon realized that flying a flag that was even remotely close to the British flag was not a great confidence-builder for the revolutionary effort, so he turned his efforts towards creating a new symbol of freedom for the soon-to-be fledgling nation.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress took a break from writing the Articles of Confederation and passed a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

In response to the petition, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1777. It reads in the Journals of the Continental Congress:

Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

The date commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The flag was called the Flag Resolution of 1777 and was the first of many iterations of what would become the American flag we recognize today.

Betsy Ross Didn’t Design the Original Flag

Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Phoebe Griscom, is widely credited with making the first modern American flag in 1776. Folklore states it occurred after General George Washington visited her home at 239 Arch Street in Philadelphia. Ross was the wife of John Ross, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Militia. John was killed in the early stages of the war. What is known is that Betsy Ross worked in upholstery and helped war efforts by making tents and blankets.

The story of Ross and her presenting the American flag to Washington after he gave her a sketch of what he wanted didn’t become part of “history” until 1876 at Centennial celebrations of the American Revolution. Around that year Ross’s grandson, William J. Canby, wrote a research paper for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania claiming that his grandmother had made the first American flag.

The real designer of the American flag was Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey. Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department and also designed a flag for them around 1777, too.

Hopkinson was the only person to make the claim of inventing the American flag in his lifetime until the Betsy Ross apocrypha surfaced a hundred years later. Substantiating Hopkinson’s claims are preserved bills he sent to Congress for his work.

According to the United States Flag Organization:

Apparently acting on a request from Congress, Hopkinson sent a detailed bill on June 6th, and it was sent to the auditor general, James Milligan. He sent it to the commissioners of the Chamber of Accounts, who replied six days later on June 12th that they were of the opinion that the charges were reasonable and ought to be paid.

Flag Day itself was first established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Wilson was also the first president to recognize Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the latter of which is this Sunday. However, Flag Day didn’t officially become established until 1949 by an act of Congress.

Flag Day is not unique to the United States and many countries have specific flag days. Dates of flag days vary across the world, but most dates were chosen to mark a significant national event like an independence day, a declaration of independence, an important military victory, the creation of the flag, or something similar to our Armed Forces Day.

Prior to Flag Day, June 14, 1923, neither the federal government nor the states had official guidelines governing the display of the United States’ flag. On that date, the National Flag Code was constructed by representatives of over 68 organizations, under the auspices of the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion. The code drafted by that conference was printed by the national organization of the American Legion and given nationwide distribution.

On June 22, 1942, the code became Public Law 77-623; chapter 435. Little had changed in the code since the Flag Day 1923 Conference. The most notable change was the removal of the Bellamy salutedue to its similarities to the Hitler salute.

The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 prohibits real estate management organizations from restricting homeowners from displaying the Flag of the United States on their own property.

The Army Specialist Greg L. Chambers Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 added a provision to allow governors, or the mayor of the District of Columbia, to proclaim that the flag be flown at half-staff upon the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who died while serving on active duty. The provision directs federal facilities in the area covered by the governor or mayor of the District of Columbia to fly the flag at half-staff consistent with such proclamations.

The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Sec. 595.)allows the military salute for the flag during the national anthem by members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and by veterans.

And how it was to become named Old Glory

Old Glory!”

This famous name was coined by Captain William Driver, ship master of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig Charles Doggett friends presented him with a beautiful American flag of twenty four stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed “Old Glory!” (This voyage would climax with the rescue of the mutineers of the Bounty).

Captain Driver retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured American flag from his sea days with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver’s “Old Glory.” When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebels were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the hated banner.

Then on February 25th, 1862, Union forces captured Nashville and raised the American flag over the capital. It was a rather small ensign and immediately folks began asking Captain Driver if “Old Glory” still existed. Happy to have soldiers with him this time, Captain Driver went home and began ripping at the seams of his bed cover. As the stitches holding the quilt-top to the batting unraveled, the onlookers peered inside and saw the 24-starred original “Old Glory”!

Captain Driver gently gathered up the flag and returned with the soldiers to the capitol. Though he was sixty years old, the Captain climbed up to the tower to replace the smaller banner with his beloved flag. The Sixth Ohio Regiment cheered and saluted – and later adopted the nickname “Old Glory” as their own, telling and re-telling the story of Captain Driver’s devotion to the flag we still honor today.

Captain Driver’s grave is located in the old Nashville City Cemetery and is one of three (3) places authorized by act of Congress where the Flag of the United States may be flown 24 hours a day.

A caption above a faded black and white picture in the book, The Stars and the Stripes, states that ‘Old Glory’ may no longer be opened to be photographed, and no color photograph is available.” Visible in the photo in the lower right corner of the canton is an applique anchor, Captain Driver’s very personal note. “Old Glory” is the most illustrious of a number of flags – both Northern and Confederate – reputed to have been similarly hidden, then later revealed as times changed. The flag was given to his granddaughter or niece who later donated it to the Smithsonian.

So on this flag day rather you are celebrating in Alamogordo, Nashville or the beaches of California, let us remember no party and no ideology owns the American flag. The American flag is the people’s flag with a long history that is a twist of tales and reverence. 

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January Important Issues Poll 2021

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Softening of America A Commentary By John F Kennedy Revisited 60 Years Later 4/2/2021

While doing research on a book I am writing on a New Mexico Track and Field Coach Bob Robert Sepulveda I came across this amazing take on physical fitness by President JFK. Quite a different approach to what we see today. I wonder if we as citizens truly embraced what president Kennedy embraces below if the national crises Covid-19 would be so severe or would our diabetes and obesity issues be less and us a healthier and happier nation? Maybe the softening of America’s youth he refers to then is a wake up call for now to become more physically active and to embrace fitness…

On Dec. 26, 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy penned a piece for Sports Illustrated touting the importance of “physical soundness” for Americans — for kids and grown-ups alike. A precursor to today’s America’s Great Outdoor Initiative, which encourages families to get outdoors, it hit the outdoor nail on the proverbial head. Read on to see The Soft American in its entirety…

The Soft American
By President-elect John F. Kennedy

Beginning more than 2,500 years ago, from all quarters of the Greek world men thronged every four years to the sacred grove of Olympia, under the shadow of Mount Cronus, to compete in the most famous athletic contests of history—the Olympian games.

During the contest a sacred truce was observed among all the states of Greece as the best athletes of the Western world competed in boxing and foot races, wrestling and chariot races for the wreath of wild olive which was the prize of victory. When the winners returned to their home cities to lay the Olympian crown in the chief temples they were greeted as heroes and received rich rewards. For the Greeks prized physical excellence and athletic skills among man’s greatest goals and among the prime foundations of a vigorous state.

Thus the same civilizations which produced some of our highest achievements of philosophy and drama, government and art, also gave us a belief in the importance of physical soundness which has become a part of Western tradition; from the mens sana in corpore sano of the Romans to the British belief that the playing fields of Eaton brought victory on the battlefields of Europe. This knowledge, the knowledge that the physical well-being of the citizen is an important foundation for the vigor and vitality of all the activities of the nation, is as old as Western civilization itself. But it is a knowledge which today, in American, we are in danger of forgetting.

The first indication of a decline in the physical strength and ability of young Americans became apparent among United States soldiers in the early stages of the Korean War. The second came when figures were released showing that almost one out of every two young American was being rejected by Selective Service as mentally, morally or physically unfit. But the most startling demonstration of the general physical decline of American youth came when Dr. Hans Kraus and Dr. Sonja Weber revealed the results of 15 years of research centering in the Posture Clinic of New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital—results of physical fitness tests given to 4,264 children in this country and 2,870 children in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

The findings showed that despite our unparalleled standard of living, despite our good food and our many playgrounds, despite our emphasis on school athletics, American youth lagged far behind Europeans in physical fitness. Six tests for muscular strength and flexibility were given; 57.9% of the American children failed one or more of these tests, while only 8.7% of the European youngsters failed.

A Consistent Decline

Especially disheartening were the results of the five strength tests: 35.7% of American children failed one or more of these, while only 1.1% of the Europeans failed, and among Austrian and Swiss youth the rate of failure was as low as .5%.

As a result of the alarming Kraus-Weber findings President Eisenhower created a Council on Youth Fitness at the Cabinet level and appointed a Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth, composed of prominent citizens interested in fitness. Over the past five years the physical fitness of American youth has been discussed in forums, by committees and in leading publications. A 10-point program for physical fitness has been publicized and promoted. Our schools have been urged to give increased attention to the physical well-being of their students. Yet there has been no noticeable improvement. Physical fitness tests conducted last year in Britain and Japan showed that the youth of those countries were considerably more fit than our own children. And the annual physical fitness tests for freshman at Yale University show a consistent decline in the prowess of young American; 51& of the class of 1951 passed the tests, 43% of the class of 1956 passed, and only 38%, a little more than a third, of the class of 1960 succeeded, in passing the not overly rigorous examination.

Of course, physical tests are not infallible. They can distort the true health picture. There are undoubtedly many American youths and adults whose physical fitness matches and exceeds the best of other lands.

But the harsh fact of the matter is that there is also an increasingly large number of young Americans who are neglecting their bodies—whose physical fitness is not what it should be—who are getting soft. And such softness on the part of individual citizens can help to strip and destroy the vitality of a nation.

For the physical vigor of our citizens is one of America’s most precious resources. If we waste and neglect this resource, if we allow it to dwindle and grow soft then we will destroy much of our ability to meet the great and vital challenges which confront our people. We will be unable to realize our full potential as a nation.

Throughout our history we have been challenged to armed conflict by nations which sought to destroy our independence or threatened our freedom. The young men of America have risen to those occasions, giving themselves freely to the rigors and hardships of warfare. But the stamina and strength which the defense of liberty requires are not the product of a few weeks’ basic training or a month’s conditioning. These only come from bodies which have been conditioned by a lifetime of participation in sports and interest in physical activity. Our struggles against aggressors throughout our history have been won on the playgrounds and corner lots and fields of America.

Thus, in a very real and immediate sense, our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.

However, we do not, like the ancient Spartans, wish to train the bodies of our youth to make them more effective warriors. It is our profound hope and expectation that Americans will never again have to expend their strength in armed conflict.

But physical fitness is as vital to the activities of peace as to those of war, especially when our success in those activities may well determine the future of freedom in the years to come. We face in the Soviet Union a powerful and implacable adversary determined to show the world that only the Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress and the elimination of poverty and want. To meet the challenge of this enemy will require determination and will and effort on the part of all American. Only if our citizens are physically fit will they be fully capable of such an effort.

For physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. The relationship between the soundness of the body and the activities of the mind is subtle and complex. Much is not yet understood. But we do know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong; that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies.

In this sense, physical fitness is the basis of all the activities of our society. And if our bodies grow soft and inactive, if we fail to encourage physical development and prowess, we will undermine our capacity for thought, for work and for the use of those skills vital to an expanding and complex America.

Thus the physical fitness of our citizens is a vital prerequisite to America’s realization of its full potential as a nation, and to the opportunity of each individual citizen to make full and fruitful use of his capacities.

It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies. The age of leisure and abundance can destroy vigor and muscle tone as effortlessly as it can gain time. Today human activity, the labor of the human body, is rapidly being engineered out of working life. By the 1970’s, according to many economists, the man who works with his hands will be almost extinct.

Many of the routine physical activities which earlier Americans took for granted are no longer part of our daily life. A single look at the packed parking lot of the average high school will tell us what has happened to the traditional hike to school that helped to build young bodies. The television set, the movies and the myriad conveniences and distractions of modern life all lure our young people away from the strenuous physical activity that is the basis of fitness in youth and in later life.

Now is the Time

Of course, modern advances and increasing leisure can add greatly to the comfort and enjoyment of life. But they must not be confused with indolence, with, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “slothful-ease,” with an increasing deterioration of our physical strength. For the strength of our youth and the fitness of our adults are among our most important assets, and this growing decline is a matter of urgent concern to thoughtful Americans.

This is a national problem, and requires national action. President Eisenhower helped show the way through his own interest and by calling national attention to our deteriorating standards of physical fitness. Now it is time for the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans.

First: We must establish a White House /Committee on Health and Fitness to formulate and carry out a program to improve the physical condition of the nation. This committee will include the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the Secretary of the Interior. The executive order creating this committee will clearly state its purpose, and coordinate its activities with the many federal programs which bear a direct relation to the problem of physical fitness.

Second: The physical fitness of our youth should be made a direct responsibility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This department should conduct—through its Office of Education and the National Institutes of Health—research into the development of a physical fitness program for the nation’s public schools. The results of this research shall be made freely available to all who are interested. In addition, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare should use all its existing facilities to attach the lack of youth fitness as a major health problem.

Third: The governor of each state will be invited to attend the annual National Youth Fitness Congress. This congress will examine the progress which has been made in physical fitness during the preceding year, exchange suggestions for improving existing programs and provide an opportunity to encourage the states to implement the physical fitness program drawn up by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Our states are anxious to participate in such programs, to make sure that their youth have the opportunity for full development of their bodies as well as their minds.

Fourth: The President and all departments of government must make it clearly understood that the promotion of sports participation and physical fitness is a basic and continuing policy of the United States. By providing such leadership, by keeping physical fitness in the forefront of the nation’s concerns, the federal government can make a substantial contribution toward improving the health and vigor of our citizens.

But no matter how vigorous the leadership of government, we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. We do not live in a regimented society where men are forced to live their lives in the interest of the state. We are, all of us, as free to direct the activities of our bodies as we are to pursue the objects of our thought. But if we are to retain this freedom, for ourselves and for generations to come, then we must also be willing to work for the physical toughness on which the courage and intelligence and skill of man so largely depend.

All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.