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

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HYDE PARK, Thursday—In his column the other day, Ernie Pyle said that he was writing a collection of "Items," and I have a feeling that I should do the same, for I have so many unrelated things that I want to talk about. I'll have to take them one at a time, however.

First of all, I have had a number of letters from women who feel resentful because in the reports of overseas actions, so often those who write in newspapers or talk over the air minimize our losses. In reporting a bombing mission, for instance, they will say: "Only six bombers failed to return." That little word "Only," when it is read by a woman whose son or whose husband was on one of those lost bombers, creates a sense of deep bitterness. The Nazis have minimized the value of human life, and these women ask: "Have we become so contaminated by fighting against them that we do not treasure every individual?"

One woman picks out a report written on the Normandy beachhead: "Opposition was only a nuisance; German snipers killed quite a few men." I realize that in comparison to the estimates which must be made before any attack, of the possible loss of human life, the actual loss seems small and these reporters express relief. Ernie Pyle, however, seems to have the greatest understanding of the feelings of the people at home, and he rarely makes such mistakes. So he often brings healing to hurt souls instead of adding sorrow.

A friend of mine in England, who has two boys fighting in Burma, sent me a poem which should make many of us who are fortunate enough not to have lost any loved ones so far in this war, more alive to the feelings of others. The poem is entitled "We Who Have Husbands at Home."

"We who have husbands at home should be very quiet
For we do not know
The meaning of days, nor yet do we understand
The hush of houses where in shadow go
The unheard footsteps, the invisible faces of men.
Let us not speak
Too loudly of war restrictions and rationing and in the black-out
For there are eyes that seek
Empty horizons, skies and deserts and sad gray seas,
And a sign from God.
While we who have husbands at home look in the shops
For wool perhaps, or cod
Let us remember, when we complain of the winters cold
There are others here
Who have held in the moonless dark of a thousand nights
The hand of fear,
And have walked for years in desolate barren valleys
Where no flowers grow
We who have husbands at home should be very quiet,
For we do not know."

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 30, 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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.