My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

WASHINGTON, Friday—We are all shocked today by the news of Secretary Knox's death. My husband and I have known, of course, that he was seriously ill, but we have hoped, as did everyone else, that he would recover. During these years of the war, the Secretary has taken many arduous trips. I know well how exhausting such trips are, but he felt that he must see at first hand, and his devotion to duty and his pride in the Navy's achievements made him feel, I am sure, that no personal exertion or sacrifice should be evaded.

To Mrs. Knox and the other members of the family goes our deepest sympathy in these sad hours. There can be only one consolation, and that is that like the men in the field, he died in the service of his country. War takes a toll of men in all branches of the government service, for work in offices under pressure of war is completely exhausting, and the heads of departments have an especially heavy burden both in their offices and in travel.

A death such as this brings one closer to the many people in the country who day by day, face telegrams from the War and Navy Departments announcing the death of loved ones in faraway lands. Yesterday one of my visitors told me that over a period of three weeks he had taken to a mother three telegrams, announcing first the death of one of her sons, then that another son was missing in battle, and finally that the last one was wounded and in a hospital abroad.

Life seems to be so full of sorrow that one only lives from day to day with the hope that the war will soon be over and the prayer that the weight of the world's sorrow will somehow purify humanity and make us all more worthy of God's help in building a better world.

I saw three gentlemen yesterday who were here from Red Oak, Iowa. They are hoping to obtain from the Veterans' Bureau, the location of a hospital in their town in memory of the youngsters who went from there in great numbers and died for their country in Africa. These boys belonged to the National Guard and the percentage of killed, wounded and missing must be very high, for some of the companies have had to have almost total replacement.

One cannot help hoping that someday a memorial such as this will be a reality, not just to honor the dead, but to remind the living of the human costs involved in war and keep them constantly fighting for peace.

E. R.