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


NEW YORK, Tuesday—In spite of predictions to the contrary, we had a beautiful Saturday and Sunday in the country. Cold but clear and in the sun there were moments when you could almost imagine that spring was as close at hand as the little brave green shoots coming up on the south side of my house seem to believe it is.

We had a very successful birthday celebration for Congresswoman Mary T. Norton and Miss Lorena Hickok. Their birthdays fall on the same day, and so for the past few years they have celebrated them here with me a number of times.

I think Congresswoman Norton is perfectly remarkable. She insists that she is 79 years old, but nobody would ever know it by watching her! She sat with us Saturday night and listened to Adlai Stevenson's speech and was as keen—and interesting in her comments—as anyone in the room. She went to church on Sunday morning and walked up and down for half an hour waiting for me to pick her up because Mass for her lasted only an hour while church for me lasted well over an hour and then I had to drive back to get her.

Old age which comes as gracefully as it has come to her is certainly nothing to be feared for she is more interesting and a more entertaining companion today probably than she was 40 years ago. She is lovable and kind and I am sure every member of her family adores her and she certainly has many, many friends. I feel it both an honor and a pleasure to be one of her friends.

In The New York Times magazine on Sunday, there was an article by John B. Oakes entitled "This Is the Real, the Lasting Damage." It talks for the first time very openly about the fear that is prevalent in the land today where everyone is fearful of saying anything which may cause him to be called a Communist by many who do not even know what it is to be a Communist. The fear has fallen on our public men, on our teachers, even on our ministers and certainly it has fallen on our young people.

Those of us who understand communism know that it is because it creates fear in people that we dislike it. Communism enslaves both the bodies and the minds of men. Because of the fear that we are creating at home, the same situation is developing in what is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. We might almost as well be living under a totalitarian government for the effect upon us all is much the same as it would be if we did not have our freedoms guaranteed by law.

The laws are all there and they are all good but they no longer protect us. I do not belittle the harm that undetected Communists might create in this country but something has happened to us when people who are not Communists are still afraid of being called Communists, so some of the things said in this article we should take to heart.

Here is a quote to remember: "The only antidote, therefore, to the influence these people exert (those who would frighten us) is a determination not to be frightened by them. There is no trick to recovering the full expression of freedom. But it requires constant exercise of that privilege, for nothing atrophies from disuse so quickly. Americans in their hearts know this, and despite momentary aberrations they have always come back to it."



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 10, 1954

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.

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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.