If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

June 1950


1. My husband has completed a course in industrial engineering under the GI Bill at a trade school approved by the Veterans Administration. Now he can’t find a job because he hasn’t a degree from an accredited college. I know others in the same predicament. What can we do, and why are such things allowed to go on?

What you tell me about your husband seems to me to indicate extremely poor supervision by the Veterans Administration of the courses approved for the GI. I will send your letter directly to the Veterans Administration, as I think this works a great hardship and should never have been allowed. I can only think that the Veterans Administration might try to make up to those who have, because of some mistake, gone to an unaccredited school by giving them an extension of time in an accredited school.


2. I notice that you often wear a little pin in the shape of an anchor. Does it have a special significance for you?

I am afraid you have mistaken an old pin which I frequently wear, which is a fleur-de-lis pearl pin. I have no pin in the form of an anchor. The fleur-de-lis pin belonged to my grandmother and to my mother. It was probably bought when my grandmother, with her husband and children, took a trip to Europe. It took much more time and planning to do such a thing in those early days, and they spent quite a long time in Europe. My grandmother used to talk about that trip years afterward when I was a little girl, but I cannot remember whether she told me she bought the pin on that trip. I have always been fond of it because it reminds me of France, and I love France, and also because it was worn by two generations before me on my mother’s side of the family.


3. Why does our country lend money and supplies to foreign nations independently of the United Nations?

I suppose you are talking about the Marshall Plan. The reason for it is that under the Charter of the United Nations certain things are permitted, but the budget of the United Nations would not be sufficiently large to cover some of the things which our nation has found it advisable to do. We do them with the full knowledge of the United Nations.


4. We have adopted a baby. Do you think the good environment we plan to give him will make up for what may have been an unfortunate heredity?

The argument as to whether heredity or environment is more important in a child’s final development has never been settled. Of course, it may well be that the child you have adopted may not be unfortunate as far as his heredity is concerned, unless you know something definite, in which case you should watch and try to counteract any harmful tendencies. It always seems to me that environment means more than heredity in the long run and that with knowledge one can work intelligently to counteract anything harmful in the child’s heredity.


5. How does the H-bomb alter the chances for world peace?

I think the H-bomb helps to remove the chances of war, because our scientists recognize that the H-bomb may be a completely destructive weapon. That means, of course, that the U.S.S.R. scientists also know this, and I have an idea that the Politburo is quite as anxious to continue to have a world in which to live as we are.

If experimentation with the H-bomb means possible destruction, it may prove the greatest incentive to keeping us at peace. I think this might be emphasized more than it is at the present time.

Mrs. Alben Barkley asks “Do you think the U.N. is becoming progressively stronger? Do you feel that within our generation more power will be given to it and that through the U.N. world peace may become a reality?”

I should say that the U.N. has become progressively stronger in the past four years. Every year sees better understanding developing among the vast majority of the nations represented. We are learning gradually to work together. The only people with whom we haven’t in any way been able to improve our relations are the people in the U.S.S.R. That is because there is a deep suspicion on both sides and an inability to talk to one another except as government representatives, which does not lead to greater understanding. I think, however, as understanding grows with other nations throughout the world we may break down some of the suspicions.

No more power can be given the U.N. until we and the U.S.S.R. can come to some kind of agreement to live in the same world together, each pursuing our own way of life but at least having economic and cultural contacts which may help us to greater understanding of each other. When we achieve this I think world peace can become a reality.

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About this document

If You Ask Me, June 1950

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 77, June 1950

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
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