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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday— Thanksgiving Day! This is truly a United States festival for it was started by our forefathers when starvation looked them in the face for many long months and only by the kindness of the Indians who shared their corn with them was starvation averted. For many years it was the custom to put three parched kernels of corn on each Thanksgiving plate before the grace was said so as to remind all present during the years of plenty of the scarcity that once existed and which was not so impossible of return in those early days as to be barred from the vision of the people. This year only a very small number of people in the world could say an old fashioned child's grace, "The Lord make us truly thankful for His grace and bounty."

I am glad that we instituted the custom of Thanksgiving and I am glad that within our country we still have plenty enough to share with our own people who may be needy and to give with both hands to the people of the world.

I read the report of an interesting speech the other night by a woman who is reported to have said that we must demand that American foreign policy be more realistic in dealing with European relief and "that we get our money's worth in Europe." Just what is meant by being more realistic and what is our money's worth? Getting something in return for what we send to Europe or Asia?

I would like to explain what being realistic means to me because I think I approximate the average American viewpoint. It means knowing what the actual needs of European nations are before we send them relief which may not be what they really need at all, then sending to each area what they must have to keep them alive and working until the next harvest. Giving them the machinery, the tools, the seeds and the fertilizer necessary for industrial and agricultural rehabilitation, providing what is essential for transportation and communication needs. This may cost us considerable sacrifice and require better organization at home but within two years we shall begin to see results which up to now we have not obtained. Getting our money's worth from Europe means to me, having markets for our goods again, perhaps never getting back the actual value of what we have sent in relief and rehabilitation but getting it back by having people who want our goods, able to buy them again. The increased sales would mean more rapid repayment than insisting on repayment of principle and interest on a debt will mean. In addition getting our money's worth means to me creating goodwill among the people of Europe and Asia instead of bitterness and hate. For that reason even if only 16 nations have made their plans and presented their requests to us as yet, I hope the door will be left open for other nations to join in our joint efforts for rehabilitation. This woman's speech continues in a vein which is most surprising. She is quoted as desiring that all food should be distributed by Americans and given only to those who actually need it and she adds that the Ruhr Valley should be taken over and its industries rebuilt by the Americans. These countries are prepared to set up their own committees for allocation and distribution of food and goods. Must we force upon freedom loving people the bitter bread of charity because we have been spared where they have suffered? Have we so soon forgotten that they were our first line of defense in the war and that if they had not stopped Hitler we might be starving and we might have devastation surrounding us? The Ruhr is a European area upon which many of Europe's industries depend. It can scarcely be run by Americans unless we are prepared to overlook all idea of international responsibility.

On this Thanksgiving Day let us highly resolve to be grateful, realistic, and generous.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 27, 1947

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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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.