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


NEW YORK, Monday—I have a most entertaining letter from a man whose hobby seems to be finding the right word to express a thought. He tells me that after 20 years he has now completed "a dictionary in reverse," in which the ideas are listed alphabetically and the word that expresses that idea follows. This remarkable book is called the Vocabulary Guide by J.E. Schmidt.

Somebody kindly send me the other day a draft based on Ely Culbertson's plan, which my correspondent, Mrs. Young, says was passed by the United States Congress. It is a plan for creating a police force within the United Nations.

In many ways this is a practical plan, and I think it might be reassuring to a great many countries to feel that the smaller nations were represented in this force on an equal basis with the greater nations. I think it is going to be difficult, however, to find young men willing to give up three years of their lives to this service and who must during that time hold no allegiance to their native countries. They must show complete allegiance to the United Nations.

There is also another point, namely, that a universal language, such as Esperanto, shall be adopted for the use of the police force. I find very little interest in a universal language of this type. It would mean learning a new language and I find that gradually more and more people are learning English, anyway. English is becoming the second language for an increasing number of nations, which makes it seem quite possible that it will serve the purpose desired in becoming a universal language.

One of the most interesting letters I have received in a long time comes from a lady in Kenmore, N.Y. She has four boys, some of them in the service.

She says: "I am not a mother who sees this merely as a sacrifice. Rather I see this as an opportunity for our American boys to interpret our American way of life to the people of other countries where they may be stationed if they are trained to feel such a responsibility as well as their military responsibilities."

She goes on to say: "My question is how much emphasis is being given to our young men in the armed forces during their training as to their part in the carrying of our democratic ideals to other countries? How much is being done to impress on them their responsibilities in this respect? Are they being made to realize their behavior in the so-called little things can interpret our way to those who do not understand our language well?"

This is a question which has been brought up a number of times. The Army is never fond of any interference with its training, but there seems to me to be a new breath blowing through much of the Army red tape. And I certainly hope it will be possible to have some changes made in the type of education that is given to our young soldiers.

There is no question that our boys are serving as ambassadors and interpreters of our way of life in many parts of the world. I think it is very important that they should feel the importance of their mission and live in any country with the idea of leaving that country with a better knowledge of what the United States is and the kind of people it produces.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 16, 1951

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.