My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Thursday—On Tuesday in Washington, on their first birthday, I reviewed the SPARS, from the Ellipse back of the White House. As Adm. Russell R. Wasche and I stood watching them go by, I had a great pride in what these girls are achieving. They looked smart and are doing a good job. I keep meeting the boys from the Coast Guard schools also, and I must say their spirit is perfectly grand.

A number of wives of officers who are overseas came to lunch with me, as well as some of my old friends. In the evening I went for the second time to Walter Reed Hospital, this time to show my South Pacific film and to talk to the patients.

I passed the day yesterday in Boston with our youngest son. Like every other mother, I imagine, when the day for shoving off comes nearer, one values the few hours which can be passed together.

It seemed very queer last Monday, when all the newspapers in New York City were asking me if I had heard that one of our boys was shot down in Germany and taken prisoner, not to know any more than they knew. Later, of course, the papers discovered that it was only a Swiss rumor, probably Nazi inspired, which had grown from something picked up in an Italian paper. It certainly is a roundabout way of getting news of one's children and, at that, probably untrue news. But, like all other mothers in the United States, I had to say I had no official information.

I have had two things suggested to me on this whole subsidy question, which I think ought to be cleared up in people's minds. One is that the sum of money, $500,000,000, which is asked to continue the subsidy program, is so large that it worries people. It wouldn't if they realized that inflation will cost several billion dollars, instead of several million.

The other is that a number of people feel that any subsidy is tantamount to WPA. In other words a charitable handout—and they feel that WPA was wastefully administered. In the first place, I should like to say that WPA was an out and out gift, in no way a subsidy, but a gift to people who had been hurt by an economic system over which they had no control.

That system in the "20s" was run by the very group of people who are now opposed to subsidies, and who want to return to the "good old days." WPA was necessary, but it was not a subsidy. Anything done to meet an emergency on the scale of the WPA can never be perfectly run. But by and large the main purposes of the relief program in this country were met and met certainly at a far lower cost than starvation would have brought to our people as a whole.

PNews, SHJ, 26 November 1943