The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Monday—Yesterday I told you I would tell you a little more about the ceremony of presenting the Congressional medal to Mrs. Margaret Livingston Chanler Aldrich. This very charming gray-haired woman brought a photograph of herself in her nurse's uniform to show to the President and told us at luncheon how she happened to undertake this work, which so many years later has brought her the recognition of a Congressional medal.

Mrs. Aldrich heard that nurses were going to be needed in Puerto Rico and realized that an interpreter would be needed who could speak Spanish. She had learned Spanish and therefore volunteered to go as an interpreter, not as a nurse, but she spent two weeks in a New York City hospital so that she would know what a hospital regimen should be. The other woman, Anna Bouligny from New Orleans, who was also awarded a medal posthumously, went to do the catering for the hospital. Mrs. Aldrich recalled that she would go to market every morning at six o'clock with the cook and the lists of diets necessary and get whatever was needed and then supervise the cooking and serving.

Mrs. Aldrich found herself not only interpreting, but at the head of twenty-odd nurses in this hospital. She must have been terrified inwardly, but knowing her as I do, I am sure she never showed it. She said yesterday that all of her men got well. She knew that if they had died, she would never have had the courage to keep on. I feel sure, however, that whatever had to be done, she would have done. Mrs. Aldrich's son and daughter-in-law were with her yesterday. I am glad that she is still living to receive this honor so long overdue and I feel sure that her children will cherish it.

In the afternoon I took a long walk in the woods and saw the landscape with the eyes of a California guest, who said to me yesterday morning that I could not imagine what bare trees against the sky and the snow on the ground meant to him, accustomed to the evergreen or brown landscape of California. He was astonished to find that the bare branches had beauty of design which made them just as interesting in a different way than they would be in summer when clothed with their foliage. I have always felt this way about the changing seasons. Each one has it's own particular charm and I would regret being anywhere where I could not observe these changes and feel the difference in the air as they approached.

This morning, I was delighted to read the story by Emma Bugbee in the New York Herald -Tribune about Miss Thompson. Of course, from my point of view, no one else could do the the job for me which she does, but I think that everyone reading this article, who has aspirations to be a "perfect" secretary, will learn something of what unselfish work can accomplish.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 19, 1939

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.