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


MEEKER, Colo.—It was with sorrow that I heard on Wednesday last of Mrs. Basil O'Connor's death. I had not seen her in some years, but she was always a sweet and charming person who will be greatly missed by her family and friends. For her husband who has worked so hard in the causes which were close to my husband's heart this will be a hard blow, and he will have the deep sympathy of all those who have worked with him and admired him.

On Thursday night of last week the meeting of the Dutchess County World Council was at Mr. and Mrs. Fried's farm. This was a perfectly delightful site overlooking a lake in which they say the fishing is good as well as the swimming. The Frieds are most generous in allowing organizations to use their place, and I can imagine no lovelier setting for a picnic.

Everyone seemed surprised that I did not seem more excited about leaving home on Friday morning. But, as a matter of fact, I had made so few preparations for this trip that I had not yet fully realized that I would not be home for six weeks! I am sure that I am going to find that I have left many things undone that I should have done. Fortunately, I am still fairly available here in Colorado for the next two weeks.

In one of our New York papers on Thursday evening I read an article by Dr. Charles Mayo in which he stated his belief that the returning prisoners of war who have decided not to remain behind the Iron Curtain and who have committed crimes either against their fellow prisoners or their country must pay for their misdeeds.

I think no one will disagree with his argument that they must be punished, but I am interested in the way that they should be punished and in the way they should be treated. I hope this will be carried out so that they will feel not only that they have paid their debt to society but that they have a future debt of gratitude to their country that can never be entirely liquidated.

This debt can be paid only by the kind of active good citizenship which none of them has ever understood in the past. The aim of our punishment, the aim of whatever rehabilitation is given should be to develop an understanding of good citizenship and of the responsibility of an American citizen to his family and his country.

This is hard to do, however, unless the citizen has been brought to some realization of what he has received from his country. This is, I think, an important effort to make.

It is probably true that many other boys did not commit crimes, and still they may have had as hard lives and as unsatisfactory backgrounds as these boys who have failed so miserably. Of course, this is difficult for us to know, since we cannot tell whether there may have been some factors in the other boys' lives that gave them more stability and a greater sense of gratitude.

Therefore, justice probably can never be achieved in this world, but I hope with these men some measure of feeling may be achieved.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Meeker (Colo., United States) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 3, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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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.