My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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ON PLANE GOING TO NEW ZEALAND—(Delayed)—The night before last, we reached one of the largest islands we have visited. We had to circle for a time before landing and then change to another plane for a short hop before reaching our final destination, which was great luck for me since the group to which the pilots on this short hop belonged have now made me an honorary member of their organization.

Yesterday morning I breakfasted at 7:00 and at 8:00 we started on our rounds and visited two hospitals during the morning. We went to a rest camp the Red Cross runs for officers in an old plantation, which they have done over and somehow made liveable by dint of endless work and ingenuity. We saw another hospital and one camp in the afternoon and finally paid a visit to the Red Cross Club for enlisted personnel, where as many as 8,000 men visit every day. Late in the afternoon I met at an informal reception local government officials and some more officers, among them one of my cousins Commander W. S. Cowles, whom I had not even known was in this vicinity.

Now I have given you a day's itinerary and I can begin to tell you some of the things you must want to know. Let me first tell you what a debt of gratitude every woman at home owes to the Army and Navy nurses out here. They are not living very comfortably. They are seeing daily sights that must try their fortitude, for they are women. But every one I saw was smiling.

A pretty, jaunty, little lady who lunched with me, flies in the transport planes that bring men in from the front. She must have inspired more sense of security for the men than anyone except their mothers could. She made the men feel they can hold out in spite of pain when the temptation to give up must be great.

Next to the nurses come the Red Cross girls. Miss Maria Coletta Ryan is the American Red Cross Supervisor of the South Pacific Area and as far as I can see no one could do a better job. Materials have been lacking, supplies have been delayed because of shipping difficulties, and housing for her girls has been a constant problem. There are never enough people to do the work and yet it gets done. My hat is off to every woman working in this area.

Now to the hospitals. They are manned largely by reserve and volunteer doctors, dentists, surgeons and psychiatrists, many of them the best men to be found in their professions. Their equipment is, on the whole, remarkable. When they are set up in Quonset huts or portable buildings, it seems almost like a hospital at home. In many cases, however, they must use tents. These are gloomy and the dark hospital beds everywhere are army cots with thin mattresses which cannot give a wounded and exhausted man the idea that he has a luxurious bed. The care, however, is the best that can be given and the men appreciate it.

Every boy who begins to feel even a little better is fine, and not even the most suffering complain. I am glad I am seeing these hospitals for I will know in the future what lies behind every boy in a hospital at home. Day by day as I get nearer to what people here call up north, I rebel at the horrible waste of war.

We must fight and win this war and it must be such a victory that we can enforce the peace. This involves years of work in the future and I find a prayer in my heart, "God keep us remembering." Human beings forget so fast and if the generation that fights today is to lay the foundations on which a peaceful world can be built, all of us who have seen the war at close range must remember what we see and carry a crusading spirit into all of our work. It will profit us little to have the greatest productive capacity in the world if we have to sacrifice our far more precious human material again in the future.


(Copyright, 1943, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New Zealand [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 30, 1943

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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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.