In 1943, you wrote a letter to President Roosevelt. In 2011, the National Archives featured your letter on YouTube! How would you feel?
L. J. Weil feels pretty good, actually. “Wonderful! It’s great to be honored this way,” he said when National Archives staff reached him at his home in Lousiana.
Weil’s letter to the President Roosevelt was sent in 1943, and 67 years later it was chosen to be featured as the demonstration model for the National Archives new search engine.
What prompted Weil write to President Roosevelt? Weil was 10 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, an event he still clearly remembers. Two years later, it was 1943, and the United States was in midst of fighting World War II. Weil wanted to help.
He wrote to President Roosevelt, offering his services as a mascot. “I’m twelve years old and a little young to get into anything right now, but when I am a little older, well just you wait and see,” Weil wrote.
Weil did receive a reply but only received what he called a “brush off” from a Marine officer, who noted that there was no law about appointing official mascots. “The patriotic motive which prompted your office of service is appreciated, however, and hope that when you reach the required age of enlistment in the Marine Corps you will avail your self of the opportunity of becoming a real Marine,” concluded the letter.
The result? Weil became an Army man.
Weil attended a military academy for high school, and joined ROTC and then the Army in 1951. He served as a Special Forces Green Beret in both Korea and Vietnam. He taught Military Science at West Virginia State College, where he also was Military Department Head, and finally retired from the Army in 1971.
Clearly, President Roosevelt and the Marines missed a great opportunity!
Watch Weil’s letter be scanned and searched in this video about our new Online Public system.