AUGUST 23, 1946
NEW YORK, Thursday—None of us can help being worried and indignant over the shooting down of two of our unarmed transport planes which had wandered over the Yugoslav border. Conceding that there may be some hidden reason why our planes are forbidden to fly over a friendly country, it still seems a little difficult for the layman to understand.
It seems, too, a trifle ironic to have American planes shot down, and Americans possibly killed, by planes and ammunition which had probably been acquired through lend-lease from this country! I remember the bitterness we felt when our boys in the Pacific, after some Japanese bombing, picked up bits of material with the imprint of "Made in the United States ," and realized they were getting back scrap or manufactured materials which had been bought from us. At least that material was used against us by an enemy in wartime. But what is used against us by Yugoslavia was furnished to them as an ally to help them win the war, in which their interest was even more vital than ours.
I do not want food and medical supplies confused with military supplies, since the former were sent to Yugoslavia to help the people, and I hope that we will always distinguish between the people and their governments in countries which are not our type of democracies. In our democracy, we can hold the people responsible for the government. While the people in countries like Yugoslavia, Russia and some other European countries, can still bring pressure in the long run, they cannot act as quickly, and their information is often less complete than ours, so they cannot be held completely responsible.
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In spite of indignation and anxiety over what has occurred, I cannot help wondering where we have failed. There was a time during the war when we enjoyed the trust and respect of little and big nations everywhere. What has happened to turn that, in some cases, into suspicion and disdain? We cannot blame our leaders, because we are a democracy. Somehow we the people have failed.
In our haste to get back to the business of normal living, have we forgotten to be the great people that we were expected to be? We were the hope of the world—the people from whom justice and better things were expected. I don't think we were expected to be Santa Claus in a material way, though that is frequently said, but I think we were expected to stand firm for the right as we saw it, and not for the expedient.
Perhaps the trouble has been that, on most of the international questions which have arisen, the people of this country have not bothered to decide what they thought was right. Take, for instance, Trieste, which is probably tied up with some of the things that have recently happened; take the question of Albania and of Italy and her claims. These are three questions on which the people of this country could and should have clear opinions, and they should express them to their leaders. Have they done this? I think not.
We want to avert war. Therefore, we must build up the United Nations. But we do not help them to find a permanent home—our voice is heard only in protest. We seem to have forgotten to weigh our values and to realize that we have to pay for the things we want. The payment which can bring about friendly and peaceful solutions is infinitely less costly than the payments which will have to be made if we are going to be an enemy to all the world.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1946, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 23, 1946
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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