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

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HYDE PARK, Thursday—The Fourth of July seems to me to have a special meaning this year. They were young men who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence. Back of them there must have been old men, women and young people in the Thirteen Colonies, who agreed with them, and were willing also to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor "for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Few of them envisioned the great nation they were founding, nor could they possibly have imagined the world which would exist in the year 1941. But the feelings which moved those young men are the same which must move both men and women today, if we are going to meet our new problems with the same spirit and determination as our ancestors did in 1776.

Curiously enough, it is again a question of liberty which is going to weld us together as a nation, I think, and to bring us into closer contact with the people of other nations throughout the world. I have never believed that the majority of the people, even in Germany and Italy, if they were free and knew the truth, would want to fight their brothers of other nationalities. They have no liberty, they must believe what they are told, and thus must act according to a pattern laid down by the dictators. Therefore, in turn, they force the people of conquered nations to do the same.

It is true that for a long time both Germans and Italians have been accustomed to receiving orders. None of us who has traveled in these countries can forget the frequent "verboten" signs and "non passare," which is the Italian equivalent. If you are directed in every step you take, you cease to function as a thinking human being. But that does not mean that if you had an opportunity to think, to know and to be free, you would not choose liberty instead of despotism.

War spreads, and on this Fourth of July, those of us who long for peace, and yet who would not give up liberty even to obtain peace, must remember what made the men of 1776 so strong. It was the formulation of an ideal which they thought would bring them a better life. Perhaps that is something which must be done for Europe and Asia today. The people of those countries will only win their revolution if they have a world which they understand and which inspires them to strive for themselves to attain life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


(Copyright, 1941, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 4, 1941

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
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.