MAY 30, 1957
HYDE PARK —Memorial Day is observed annually in Hyde Park by special ceremonies in the rose garden where my husband is buried. But the day is one that belongs not to the memory of my husband alone but to every man who laid down his life in war for his country.
It is traditional for every man in this country to feel an obligation to play his part in time of war, either on the field of battle or in some capacity where he can be of the most use to his country.
But the world is changing now, and I think we should realize that what we teach our boys and girls must be different than what they learned in the past.
The men we remember on Memorial Day this year died in wars which for the most part were fought by the military, although in the last two world conflicts more and more civilians have paid with their lives for the folly of war.
But in the future there will be no such thing as a particular group of people dying for their country. Destruction will be so widespread that whole populations will die.
Therefore, I think it behooves us to teach our children that patriotism today requires a study of the world and its situations. We live in a democracy where the people can control their government if they understand enough of what is going on to form opinions on what they want done.
Statesmanship today requires us to prevent situations that lead to war instead of waiting until a crisis occurs and then trying to meet it as best we can. Each of our country's citizens should realize that it is necessary for him to learn how to get along with people of different races and nationalities at home and to spread this spirit to international relations. This responsibility no longer can be left in the hands of a few. The business of keeping out of war is the business of every citizen in a democracy.
This Memorial Day each of us should think about how we can bring about the best understanding between people, how we can be better citizens ourselves. For today patriotism doesn't mean a willingness to die on the field of battle. The soldier in any future war will not die alone. Many others, once safe from war in their own homes, will be killed, too.
Therefore, patriotism today calls for working through the United Nations for better understanding and joining in all possible ways to make life so much worthwhile for people in all parts of the world that they will want peace as much as we do. For if life is not worthwhile, war is thought to be no worse and any change may be looked upon as an improvement.
All Americans should, on this Memorial Day, think over the new situation of the world in an atomic era and plan how best they can prepare themselves to meet its needs.
For patriotism no longer can be practiced by men alone on a battlefield. Patriotism today calls for the active good citizenship of every man, woman and child in the U.S.
(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 30, 1957
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)
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