AUGUST 22, 1945
NEW YORK, Tuesday—In last Sunday's papers I saw a picture which rang a bell in my mind. It was the picture of a woman somewhere in France poking around the ruins of her home.
In January after the last World War, I drove with my husband over the northern part of the line which had been held by the British and the Americans between Paris and the Channel. I remember the heaps of stones along the roadside with sticks set in and rudely painted boards, nailed to the sticks, giving the name of what once had been the village.
I remember St. Quentin and many other small towns that were more or less in ruins, with no sign of life except some black-clad women with shawls over their heads, flitting like ghosts from cellar to cellar. Now and then, at the end of a vista, were a few children playing. They would run into a cellar and hide when the cars with soldiers came driving down the streets.
* * *
Those ghostlike women were raking over the debris of their homes, and here they are doing it again—in France, in the Soviet Union, in innumerable countries of Europe. Indeed, for some of these women it is twice in one generation. Almost more than the human heart can bear!
I wonder how many people read Raymond Daniell's article about the conditions confronting these women and children. If it were just for this winter, that wouldn't be so bad. But it is this winter on top of all the other winters of the war, and it is children growing up with one year of cold and malnutrition piled on another year, over and over again. It must mean a warping of body and mind. Even in Great Britain, which never was actually conquered, the food level has been only a subsistence level.
* * *
To be sure, the sad commentary on our civilization is the fact that many people in the British Isles were actually better off in health during these years of restrictions, because poor and rich shared alike. The government saw to it that every child and every prospective mother had a quota of milk daily. Even with the end of the war, I see that the British government is going to continue this and other similar measures which have meant better health for the whole population.
At best, however, there will be in Great Britain results from these years of strain and hardship which we in the United States can hardly understand, because we have not experienced them. Yet help for all the countries that need help must come through our leadership. There are many other countries which can contribute largely, but unless we make them see their opportunity and lead the way, who will take the leadership? Are the women of this country going to speak to the women of the other fortunate countries and, with them, are they going to speak through practical aid in the language of goodwill which must guide our future peace?
(COPYRIGHT 1945 BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 22, 1945
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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