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

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TOKYO—Here we are again with our minds turned to Memorial Day. I am sure everyone hoped as I did that when we reached Memorial Day there would be peace in Korea and the promise of peace in the world as a whole, but tensions have not appreciably lessened. There is still war going on and young lives are still being sacrificed. As we decorate the graves of those who have died for their country in the years gone by, the hearts of many of us will be heavy because of sons in Korea. Wives will be anxious for their husbands, sisters for their brothers, girls for their lovers. No one wants war and yet war goes on. Why is it human beings are so helpless to control their own destinies?

For years now I have been saying that we must keep our military strength up because only by doing so did there seem any prospect of preventing the Soviet Union from carrying through its determination to Communise the world. We have seen the Soviets take over Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania in Europe because of its superior military strength and its promises of economic aid. It looked as though only force could keep the Soviets from spreading even further than China in the Asiatic area.

We and the U.N. have prevented their spreading further but at great cost and sometimes one wonders whether it is costing all of us in the free world more than it costs the Communist world. It looks to me as though we are were holding the Soviets at bay with our military and economic strength but we had not really found a way to meet and conquer the ideas which they promulgate. I wonder if on this Memorial Day when we think over our past and honor the men who have died for their country, we should not think more seriously about how to promote the ideas in the world which will make it possible for men to live at peace, to work in peaceful fashion within their own lands and for the betterment and the well-being of their people according to the ways which those particular people believe in. If governments would stop trying to put over their ideas of how people should live and be governed, the people themselves could be trusted, if free intercourse were allowed them in every way, to decide whether certain things were bad or good in various countries. It would take time, it would take an increasing exchange of students and workers and intellectuals and industrialists but in the long run, if intercourse was free, some ideas might appeal to the majorities in different countries and they might adopt them, but we would not have to go to war about them.

It is to finding some methods by which we could live peacefully without the constant tension and bloodshed which we have now, that I would like to see us pledge ourselves in the next year.

Every country is proud of its heroes and it is well to remember them on Memorial Day but it is well to ponder whether we need a different type of heroism in a new and changing world. Perhaps we should consecrate ourselves to a search for new ways to peace as well as to think of those who have given their lives for their country in war.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 30, 1953

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
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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.