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

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EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK , Thursday —On Wednesday, Prince Bernhard flew us from Amsterdam to London in his private plane. That evening we went aboard the Queen Elizabeth for our homeward journey.

As I look back on the events of this trip, a great deal seems to have happened in a very short time, for I shall be home just a month from the day when I started. I have had a chance to see a great many people in England, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. Crowds do give one certain impressions, and I feel that the Marshall Plan is inspiring all these countries, especially Belgium and the Netherlands.

One senses their great courage and effort—and that is most important, since the objective of the European Recovery Program is to strengthen every nation so that they may strengthen the United Nations.

* * *

On the day before I left Holland, Princess Juliana, Prince Bernhard and I, with other members of our party, left the palace at Soestdijk to go to the University of Utrecht, where I received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Prince Bernhard had received the same degree on an earlier occasion, and while we were at lunch before the ceremonies, it was suddenly decided that he should wear his hood, so there was much scurrying around to find him one.

The ceremonies were held in the chapel. As I looked across at the rows of gentlemen opposite me, in their black gowns and white, pleated bibs, I felt as though I were looking at an old painting. I decided that we still had a good deal of Dutch blood in the United States, for many of the faces reminded me of people I have seen in different groups in our country.

When Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina had arrived, the rector gave his address. Then I was presented for promotion. I received the degree and the brilliant red and white hood that goes with it. After which, my promoter explained in a speech why the senate of the university had decided to confer this honor on a woman for the first time.

Naturally, the honor bestowed on me is a symbol of Dutch gratitude for the help given by Americans and, particularly, is in recognition of my husband's interest in and concern for Holland, the land of his ancestors. It makes one feel very humble to be the recipient of so much goodwill that comes almost entirely from what others have done.

* * *

When we came out in academic procession, I was handed over to the care of two students, who escorted Miss Thompson and me into a carriage drawn by four horses with plumes in the law-school colors. This, I was told, is traditional procedure when you receive an honorary degree.

We solemnly drove through crowded streets to one of the clubs of the girl students. As we got out, all the students there sang the song of their organization, while the girls who had ridden ahead of us sat on their horses, waiting for us to go inside. As we had passed one of the boys' clubs, where the boys stood outside and cheered, I had the feeling that the girls were happy for once to have it their day!

They gave me a delightful gift—a doll, which they proceeded to present with gifts representing every activity of the girls in the club. They gave the doll a little musical instrument, a basket containing keys and an account book, which signified good housekeeping, wooden shoes for the girl who must work in the garden, and a book (carefully translated into English) telling about each of these club activities. With each little gift, the girls sang a song.

This doll must be preserved as a special doll and given to my youngest granddaughter, who bears my name and who should keep it as a memento of this visit of mine to Holland and the University of Utrecht, which she may someday attend as an exchange student.

By 6 o'clock, we were back at the palace. The Queen had invited us all to dinner in her part of this rambling and attractive building. The division of the palace seems to me a very excellent arrangement—every one can be completely separated and yet can meet as often as they wish!

E. R.


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  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 23, 1948

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.