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

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LONDON—Any one who has had a chance to see what the children living in war areas have gone without cannot help being deeply impressed, not only with the physical side of the problem, but with the fact that these children have long been denied many of the little things that make up the ordinary pleasures of a child's life.

Here in Britain, the government and mothers and communities have worked together to preserve, on the whole, a very healthy standard of nutrition for their children, and yet I was struck by the way in which my godchild counted over the candies which I had brought her from the United States. She seemed to notice each one as though it were a separate gift and to enjoy it in anticipation. I saw her make up a little package which I think she was going to take back to school for the week, and she carefully left the others behind for future enjoyment. No carelessness about these sweets—they were much too precious!

While one recognizes that being denied such things may be valuable for character development, one also realizes that these children have lost one of the greatest assets of childhood—the sense that tomorrow is sure to bring more of anything that one enjoys today. That carefree confidence in the future will never be a heritage of any of the children who lived in Britain through the war years. And for the children in Europe, the experience must have been intensified. I doubt if any of us can ever hope to erase the effects, but at least we can see to it that they are not made worse in the years to come because of our carelessness or lack of understanding.

* * *

The special service for the Assembly delegates which was held in St. Paul's on Sunday afternoon was very impressive. The dome of the cathedral was lighted for the first time since the war, I believe. I noticed that the repair work on the damage done by a bomb had not yet been finished, but the cathedral looked very beautiful.

Prime Minister Attlee read the lesson, the Lord Bishop of London delivered the sermon, and prayers were dedicated to the successful carrying out of the work of the United Nations Organization. To my joy, Sir Cecil Spring Rice's "I Vow to Thee, My Country" was sung. Evidently, someone who helped to plan the service must be as fond of those verses as I am.

They carried me back to the years, during the last war, when Sir Cecil was British Ambassador in Washington. I had known him slightly ever since he had come over, as a young man, as a third secretary of the Embassy and had become an intimate friend of my Uncle Theodore Roosevelt, with whom he spent many hours walking and talking. As Ambassador, he and Lady Spring Rice were kind to a young Assistant Secretary of the Navy and his wife, so we became warm friends.

He used to tell me that we Americans were strange people because we read and knew so little about our own history. He knew far more than I did, but my husband could hold his own!

* * *

The installation of Trygve Lie as the first Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization was quite an imposing ceremony, with President of the Assembly Paul-Henri Spaak swearing in Mr. Lie with great solemnity. It must be a very real emotional experience, if you have served your country in public office, to take an oath to serve an international organization.

We must all of us, quite naturally, with the best will in the world, continue to feel a great emotional attachment for our own people and our own land. But I'm convinced, both from the seriousness with which Mr. Lie took the oath and from the way in which he delivered his speech of acceptance, that he has a very real conviction that, in serving this international organization, he will be serving the best interests of his own people as well as the rest of the world.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 6, 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.