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

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—Another Memorial Day has come around when in almost every part of our country people will be visiting cemeteries and placing flowers on the graves of their loved ones. And there will be special ceremonies devoted to the memory of the soldiers who have died in the defense of their country in the various wars that have come to us since our Revolutionary Days.

The Council of Foreign Ministers is meeting again in Europe in an effort to bring us peace. But all over the world there is unrest and the question uppermost in the minds of many people is:

“Can we prevent another war?”

I am fairly sure we can if we have patience and persistence, and go about setting our own house in order. By so doing we can give an increasingly good account of ourselves as a successful democracy, demonstrating to the peoples of the world the virtues of a democracy, and the value of allowing people to develop their sense of responsibility and really direct their own destiny.

People say to me quite frequently that the trouble with the United States at the present time is that we have no sense of destiny. When we were young and weak in our early formative years we had great leaders who communicated to the people their vision and their sense of the destiny which awaited this nation. Even at that time they had faith in the nation's potentialities, though there was as yet so little assurance of accomplishment.

Have we lost sight of our destiny? We should believe in defending the weak, in giving the adventurous an opportunity to explore along the same lines that we ourselves have followed. That does not, on the whole, seem to be the role we are inclined to play, however. With age and maturity we are growing somewhat cautious, somewhat afraid of the same spirit in others which built our own country.

I wonder what the men who fought in the Revolution and in the War of 1812 would say to us if they could come back and speak to us on our Memorial Day program. They might well say:

“You people understand much more about the physical universe than we did, but you might take cognizance of the frontiers that you have not yet explored. First and foremost is the one that will give you an understanding of the nature of man.”

There are some well-equipped men today in the field of science. Brought together, they might after a short time explain much of our human behavior. If you want to prevent another war, that may be the frontier of attack.

Our forefathers fought against annihilation in the past. Our fight is against much the same thing, but under different conditions. Face it we must, as realistically as they did. Then we may solve it as successfully.

The President is right when he says one of the most important things for us to do is to help the backward areas of the world to move up a little. But this cannot be done until medical science has vastly improved the physical and mental health of the people in these areas.

On this Memorial Day let us think of those who have gone before us and of the courage and heroism displayed by our forefathers. Let us determine not to fail them in this critical period of our history.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 30, 1949

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.

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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.