JULY 9, 1953
ATHENS, Greece —We got back from the museum on Wednesday at about twelve o'clock and at 12:35 I started to drive to the summer palace to lunch with the King and Queen. Once out of the city and started up into the hills it became much cooler. About halfway there, a little sports car whizzed past with the King driving and the Queen beside him. They were followed by three or four cars which quite evidently had difficulty keeping up with the King. Later we passed two of them mending tires at two different spots. My driver chuckled and said: "Those are the men who guard the King ." They were evidently secret service men and on this occasion far behind the King himself.
I reached the palace exactly on time to find only two other guests, a very nice family party. We had plenty of opportunity to talk and the King and Queen told me of their coming trip to the U.S. in October.
The Queen is just starting a kind of Greek Junior League here and she told me she was anxious to see anything in the way of social improvements such as housing, settlement houses, nurseries, etc. in the U.S. Both the King and Queen said the difficulty here was that there was so little money to make the reforms they would like to make.
They told me the way the King had handled the communist guerilla youth taken prisoners at the end of the past war. It was a most inspiring story. There were over a thousand boys between 14 and 21 and the King opened a school for them on an island which was returned to Greece after the last war. Poor as the islanders were, when the King told them of his project to start a school there which would help them to find work, they got together and helped renovate the buildings to receive the boys.
The boys themselves were told that their past records were wiped out. They were making new ones from the day they started in school. They would be taught a trade in the school and would be given other academic opportunities. They would chose their trade and these trades would be taught them by craftsmen on the island. They were told they did not have to go to school but everyone of them decided to go and to start their new record there. Not one refused. They had lived almost as savages in any way they could manage to live in the mountains during the guerilla warfare and they really had to be taught how to live in a civilized community. This opportunity was offered to all the young communists between the ages of 14 and 21 who had fought in the army.
The people of the island were presented by the King with a Greek flag and they felt deeply grateful that they were again a part of Greece. So they took the flag up to the school to these youngsters saying: "This treasure we now entrust to you ." The flag was treated as a treasure and the boys have turned out very well. Now the school is just being used to help poor boys who cannot get a chance to learn a trade.
Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced
- [ index ] Athens (Greece)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 9, 1953
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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