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

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HYDE PARK—We all listened with great interest to the President's speech Friday night and he certainly made it plain that we are remaining an armed nation not because we want to be armed but because in the present state of the world we have to be armed.

I liked his idea that in every church this past Sunday we join in prayer for the success of the meeting in Geneva. And I also like his pledge to try to bring about a change in the spirit with which the East and West has regarded their difficulties in the past. He assured us that, if Prime Minister Bulganin means what he says, some agreement can be reached.

I think the Russian Premier means what he says, for I think there has come about the realization in the world as a whole that war is no longer an instrument that can be used to settle our difficulties.

War means destruction for all and there would be no winner in a war of the future. But even if we succeed in achieving full-scale peace, as both President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Bulganin hope, we still will have two very different concepts of living that must be worked out, the Communist, which believes that communism will be accepted eventually in the world, and the democratic, which believes that liberty and equality of justice for all are only possible in a free world.

We are going to have to be equally dedicated to our belief as are the Communists to theirs, or the Communists may still win without war.

So this is no time for the United States to be either self-satisfied or complacent. To fight communism we must understand it, and one of the things I noticed in the book about the 21 G.I.s who went behind the Iron Curtain is that time and time again their parents said, "Our boy couldn't have done this, he never even heard the word." Ignorance and lack of understanding will never prove safe armor against an idea.

An interesting article was sent to me the other day about Joe Kotcha, who is a metallurgical inspector at the Carnegie-Illinois Irvin Works. He had been a mill worker for some 20 years, and wanted to go to college. Primarily he wanted to go to the University of Notre Dame.

He read and he bought books, but when his father was killed and the depression came he had to give up his dream of attending this university. But he did not stop reading books and buying them. When he finally had over 2,000 books he was faced with the problem of where he was going to keep them. He didn't want to sell them because they were now his friends and, he reasoned, you can't sell a friend.

So, instead he gave them to the Notre Dame library. He has now give this library over 11,000 volumes, and many smaller Catholic colleges have received books from him.

Today he is still buying and giving away books—an amazing hobby for a man who is still a mill worker and has never been rich.

In order to make his contribution of books he has to make sacrifices, but he takes great pride in the fact that his name is known by those who read the books in the Notre Dame library and elsewhere and see the book plate on which is written: "Contributed by Joseph Kotcha, Clairton, Pennsylvania."

Who would have thought that a boy who sold newspapers and dreamed of going to a university, but never got there, would become not only a great reader and scholar but the largest contributor to the University of Notre Dame library?


(Copyright, 1955, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 19, 1955

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.