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

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LONDON,—Quite frankly, the preliminary period in the UNO Assembly's plenary sessions, during which a succession of votes had to be taken, did not give a delegate like myself a sense of working very hard or making much of a contribution, since it meant just sitting and looking on and listening. I think that, from now on, however, the subjects discussed will be of greater interest. Secretary Byrnes' speech at the Monday afternoon session when debate began on the Preparatory Commission's report, was very effective. He reminded everyone that the work of peace had started during the war—that, when the days still looked dark, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had started to plan for peace. He quoted President Truman's phrase, "The responsibility of great states is to serve, and not to dominate, the world." I think all of us here are very conscious of that. When we consider the veto power which the great states have, we know it is their responsibility not only to keep peace in the world but to watch over the well-being of other nations.

Mr. Byrnes received long applause and I think it was because he pledged the full, wholehearted cooperation of the United States in the work which we are gathered here to do.

I've found that all the United States delegates who have spoken so far have commanded attention and interest. I think it is largely because they are accustomed to speaking to large audiences and speak clearly and easily.

In the galleries, there certainly is great interest in the personalities of the people on the floor. Those who have been up there tell me that everyone tries to find out about the various speakers, and they look for individual delegates about whom they have read. I think the proceedings are being followed with very great care.

In reading the American newspapers that come here, I judge that a good deal of information on the Assembly proceedings is available to the people at home. I hope you take the same amount of interest which the people here are taking and which I hope the people of European and Asiatic countries are taking. I think we shall see soon that this new effort at setting up a world organization is well on its way. But I hope we realize, too, that each step of the way is pioneering, and that only in the use of these tools which are being forged today can we find out their virtues and their defects.

* * *

Before going any further, I must tell you of one or two occurrences which have added a gleam of amusement to life. On the telephone the other day, I was told that a Major Grant wanted to speak to me. I knew no Major Grant but thought he might possibly be someone who had an introduction to me. When he was connected, he promptly announced that he thought he could not get through unless he gave a military title, but that he did not have a title and just wanted to talk to me.

Then, a young man called up from the hotel desk and asked if he could come up to see me. He wanted to have a menu card signed. When he appeared at my door, I found that he was a Canadian soldier. I would have been glad to have a talk with him if I had had time, but at least I signed his menu card!

People here want autographs just as much as those at home do. Both grown-ups and children send in quite a number of requests for my signature. The amount of mail is considerable and the people I'm really sorry for are my secretaries, who have to spend hours every day answering letters and telephone messages.

I think you will be interested in a little observation I made while walking down a street the other day. There was a shop window with a wonderful display of shoes but, as I looked, I soon discovered a little sign which said: "All available shoes have already been sold."

Something similar to this appears in quite a number of windows and would be amusing if it did not indicate a brave spirit and a good deal of hardship. Hard times still exist for many, many people in this country, and it must be infinitely worse when you cross the Channel and come into countries that were occupied by the enemy.

Among several books which have been sent to me, one little volume, called "Style of Me" and bearing the subtitle "Letters of Eula from the U.S.A.," has given me much amusement. The letters are genuine and were written by a little girl 9 or 10 years old. They are quite charming, and I think both young and old would enjoy them. Like many children, the young lady is most observing and there must have been times when her elders found her difficult to deal with. Nevertheless, it does us elders much good to see ourselves through the eyes of a child.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 17, 1946

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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.