My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Standing waiting in the station yesterday afternoon, I saw something which typifies what must be happening to thousands of young women and girls in this country. A young woman with a child in her arms kissed a serviceman goodbye. She watched him go down the steps with a smile on her face, and kept the baby waving, and then she turned away and the tears sparkled in her eyes.

I remembered something I had heard a young woman say not long before: "We've never been separated since we were married. What will I do by myself? How do I decide about the children? I want to do something to help the country and to feel that I am helping him too, but I just don't feel I can take it and make the decisions alone."

Of course she can take it and does take it. And thousands of young women all over the country are making decisions, are going to work, are taking care of their children, and even the children are learning to take it. They look for their fathers, some of whom have never left them before. The world seems a strange one without "Daddy" to come in in the evening, to listen to what they have been doing, to help them mend a toy, and to carry them upstairs to bed.

As I look at a crowd today in a railroad station, or on a train, or even in the streets, I wonder if we realize what a weight is put on every heart by the accumulation of anxiety and sorrow which walks with so many individuals, day in and day out. A woman passing by will stop and say: "Are you Mrs. Roosevelt? I just wanted to speak to you. I've got a boy somewhere in the Pacific and I've got a girl in the WACs going overseas pretty soon." The lips that smile hardly hide the tremble and you know that a mother's heart is sorely troubled.

We are a fortunate nation, nevertheless. War is not on our doorsteps. We are not living under enemy rule. We haven't had to see our boys taken off in labor drafts, our girls taken out of our villages and cities to even worse fates. If that happened to us we would understand the looks that we find on the faces of some refugees from Poland, or Czechoslovakia, or Holland or Norway. Oh, the world is a sad place to live in these days, and God grant we learn our lesson. It is not enough to hate war. We must have power to build for peace and we must be willing to make the sacrifices which that entails.

Doris Fleeson came to talk at my press conference this morning. Straight from Italy, she told us stories of our men and of the nurses which make me proud of the United States and of its young people. Others who were at the press conference will tell you what she said. I only want to add that I was proud of her and of her work.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 9, 1944

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 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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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.