WASHINGTON -- President Roosevelt today made peacetime conscription the law and proclaimed that on Oct. 16 all men from 21 to 35, inclusive, must register for selective military training.
Mr. Roosevelt signed the first peacetime draft bill in American history at 3:08 p.m. (EST) and proclaimed registration day a moment later, two days after Congress gave its final approval to the legislation.
An estimated 16,500,000 men -- citizen and alien alike -- must register at polling places throughout the country on Oct. 16. From this number, the nation will build up, over the next five years a reservoir of 5,000,000 trained men for its land and sea forces.
"America stands at the cross roads of its destiny," Mr. Roosevelt said in his proclamation.
He took cognizance of the current notice that the United States is ready and able to defend at any cost the heritage of its freedom.
"Time and distance have been shortened," he said. "A few weeks have seen great nations fall. We cannot remain indifferent to the philosophy of force now rampant in the world. The terrible fate of nations whose weakness invited attack is too well known to us all.
"We must and will marshal our great potential strength to fend off war from our shores. We must and will prevent our land from becoming a victim of aggression
"Our decision has been made. It is the will of our people."
Conscription became law on the day that the first contingent of National Guardsmen--60,500 militiamen from 26 states--were mobilized for a year of intensive training with the army in modern methods of warfare.
The first group of conscripts-about 400,000 -- probably will be called'to the colors about Nov. 15. Then, for the next five years, about a million men, will be inducted into the army annually for a year of training.
To Be Given Time
They will be drawn by lot and selected for service from the list of 16,500,000 registrants.
Mr. Roosevelt did not designate registration day as a holiday. He urged, however, that all employers, as well as federal, local and state government agencies, give their workers adequate time in which to register.
His proclamation observed in connection with the draft legislation that:
"The congress has debated without partisanship and has now enacted a law establishing a selective method of augmenting our armed forces. The method is fair, it is sure, it is democratic--it is the will of our people."
The proclamation was accompanied by a statement explaining in detail the manner in which the draft will operate.
He concluded with these words:
"In the military service they (the draftees) will be intelligently led, comfortably clothed, well fed, and adequately a r m e d equipped for basic training. By the time they get physically hardened, mentally disciplined and properly trained in fundamentals, the flow of critical munitions factory to combat units will meet the full requirements for their advanced training.
"In the military service, Americans from all walks of life, rich and poor, country bred and city raised,, farmer, 'student, manual laborer and white collar worker will learn to live side by side, i depend upon each other in military drills and maneuvers, and to appreciate each other's dignity a y American citizens.
"Universal service will bring only greater preparedness to mee V the threat of war, but a wider tribution of tolerance and understanding to enjoy the blessings peace."