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

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WASHINGTON, Thursday—I had a pleasant time yesterday with the girls at the Madeira School. They asked me far more personal questions than did the boys at Choate School last week. However, I think they had a bearing on the thing which is in all our minds today, namely, personal responsibility in a democracy.

No one reading the news today can fail to realize that this is a crucial moment for the world. The President is asking today for a great increase in our national defenses. Of course, it is vital as the picture develops before our eyes, for us to understand the need of the ability to produce mechanized weapons of war in order to protect our manpower. One has but to read the record of what happened to Holland's Army—one-fourth wiped out—to realize why we must have modern weapons of war. This, of course, we must face and must pay for.

In addition, we must realize that, if democracy is to survive, it must be because it meets the needs of its people. Anyone who knows this country, knows that there are some people to whom the form of government under which they live might easily seem immaterial because of the difficult economic situations they have faced. The President and his Administration have been trying to meet and improve their situation and all future Administrations will have to continue their efforts.

We need a united front here as well as the more tangible front of creating war materials. It requires greater cooperation and it will require greater self-sacrifice really to make democracy something for which every citizen will feel he will willingly die, because with its loss, will go economic as well as intellectual freedom.

Much has been said in this country about not wanting to participate in foreign wars and people who have said it, must now face the fact that foreign wars come very close to our own shores. We will always have not only the religious groups, but many groups who feel that war is wrong. I cannot imagine how anyone could feel otherwise with the picture before them today. But when force not only rules in certain countries, but is as menacing to all the world, as it is today, one cannot live in a Utopia which prays for different conditions and ignores those which exist.

I have a great belief in spiritual force, but I think we have to realize that spiritual force alone has to have material force with it so long as we live in a material world. The two together make a strong combination.

For years I have hoped that we could stop war as an instrument for settling any national and international difficulties. I have worked for it and shall continue to work for it. However, one has to face the world as it is and, without discarding one's ideals, meet the realities of the day and keep on working for what one hopes will be a better future.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Washington (D.C., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 17, 1940

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.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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.