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

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NEW YORK, Friday—On this Fourth of July we are fighting again for our liberty in just the way that we were fighting when the Declaration of Independence was signed. We are a great nation today. We were a small nation then, but the forces against us today are a hundred times greater because of the rapidity of both communication and transportation. We do not know whether from some fertile brain, over here or in Europe, will come some new invention at any minute which will mean death to thousands of people in the countries throughout the world. Whoever makes the invention will profit, and the others will suffer until they find some way of meeting the new invention with one still newer.

The problem before us, therefore, is just as great and requires of us the same qualities that were required to win our original war and then build a nation when it was over. Now we must sacrifice and work and go without things that we have long been accustomed to having, to retain the freedom which we achieved at the end of the Revolutionary War. And when we have retained it, we must set about building not a nation, but a new world.

To us the task seems as great and terrifying an undertaking as building a nation on a new continent once seemed to our forefathers; and it will require as much daring, as much courage, as much imagination and as much foresight.

There will probably be very few fireworks this year. I hope few children will be allowed to think of this Fourth of July only as a time for awakening their elders at dawn with firecrackers under their windows, without any realization of the significance of the day. The younger generation over many years will have to dedicate this day and every day in the year to a better understanding of their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.

I think perhaps on this Fourth of July, when we decorate the graves of men who have given their lives or their services in the past for the preservation of this country, we should devote time to a prayer to the future. That prayer should be for ourselves in the older generation, and should beseech for us unselfishness of purpose and the power to recognize nonessentials in order that we may preserve the basic things which have made democracy dear to us.

From us our children must learn integrity, and the determination to work for the things in which we believe. If we succeed in passing on these conceptions to them, the Fourth of July will always record our freedom and that of the world.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 4, 1942

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.