My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark —The dinner with the ambassador Tuesday evening was very pleasant except for the fact that I had on one side of me at the table a gentleman who spoke no English or French and very little German. On his other side was Judge Helga Pedersen. He spoke very good English, acquired at Columbia University, which helped our conversation considerably.

On Wednesday morning we visited one of my favorite statues—the Mermaid on the Rock in the Lake. We also saw the room at the State Museum, where there are fine books, lithographs and drawings, and ended up by going through the Rosenborg Palace. This is where you see the crowns and the crown jewels and innumerable rooms covering much of Danish history.

The attention given to painted ceilings in the past makes me think that people must have spent much more time gazing up into the air than we do at the present time. Otherwise, these beautiful decorations would have been wasted.

At 12:30 p.m. our ambassador called for us at our hotel and we went to a ceremony at the site where they erected the monument to my husband.

It is a plain shaft of stone with the head by sculptor Jo Davidson, enlarged to double its size, placed on top. It looks remarkably well and fits into the long alleyway lined with trees without looking too big or too small.

A committee was formed to erect this statue and I feel sure the Danish people contributed to it, though I don't know how the money was collected. If it was done by the government, then the people contributed to it through taxes. In any case, they came in considerable numbers to the ceremony.

None of the committee was able to be present, but the monument has been turned over to the municipality and one of the mayors and some other officials were there to represent the city. They took pictures of us and I said a few words of thanks.

There was a little time before we went to Christiansborg Palace for luncheon, so we drove about the city, down to the fish market where we saw the statue erected to the fishwives. Some of the fishwives we saw looked just like their statue—a good, solid, old lady. Much character shows in her face!

When I was here with my son, Elliott, and his children a few years ago, we were also taken by Mrs. Eugenie Anderson, then ambassador to Denmark, to lunch at Christiansborg Palace, so the rooms looked familiar.

The minister who was our host made a very charming speech, saying:

"It has, therefore, become my privilege on behalf of the Danish government to extend to our guest of honor a very heartfelt welcome to Denmark. I feel that, in doing so, I am acting not only as the spokesman of those present here, but I am also convinced that I am expressing the feeling of the Danish people at large.

"Right in the heart of our capital we have erected a Roosevelt memorial—a memorial to your late husband, the great leader of the American people in their heroic fight in the great alliance against the barbarian Nazi dictatorship for the very existence of democracy."

He then quoted the inscription on the memorial which I had not been able to quite understand, as I do not know Danish. In translation it said: "He fought for the freedom of the world."

I hope I responded adequately. Sometimes it is a little awe-inspiring to find that the concern of the man who was President of the U.S. for the individual unhappiness and near-slavery of a great part of the world probably provided the inspiration to innumerable people which made them strong inwardly, able to resist despotism and regain their own freedom.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Copenhagen (Denmark) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 25, 1956

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.