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

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NEW YORK—When we were in Tehran we visited the Golestan Palace on the Iranian New Year's Day, and it was a sight to see. The palace is now a museum and only used by the Shah for receptions on the first day of their new year. The streets were filled with people buying flowers. Gifts were exchanged among families and with friends, and, of course, all the servants received not only gifts of money but a plant or personal gift besides.

The Shah receives group after group at this New Year's Day reception, and all the diplomats in Teheran who wish to pay their respects must reach the palace at an early hour to avoid the crush. United States Ambassador Edward T. Wailes, dressed in white tie and tails, left his home shortly after 9 o'clock in the morning.

It was raining on that day, but that was taken as a good omen, for water is scarce throughout most of the country except on the far side of the mountains and to the Caspian Sea.

I was interested in going over a number of our Point 4 activities in Iran, and learned that 80 percent of the population lives off the land. So, you can see that farm and village life are most important and that improvement of stock—cows, sheep and chickens—has already begun to pay.

In Iran the position of women is inferior, and a man may divorce his wife without any notice. If she has property it remains hers, but he has the right to any son after the age of two and the court decides what shall happen to any daughter at the age of five. Women do not yet have the right to vote, and it is probably too early for most to want it or to use it well.

One important U.S. activity there is to train personnel for government offices and to set up and supervise the keeping of records.

We have, of course, a big military mission there, and I was told that the Iranian soldiers learn fast. I also was told by one military man that they are always questioned as to the value of military aid when what seems so essential is to raise the standard of living for the people so that they may feel life is worth living and have a desire to defend it. But I can see that with unstable neighbors the necessity to build an army equipped and trained with conventional arms is a practical one.

Such kindness and hospitality that was shown to us while we were in Iran by Ambassador and Mrs. Wailes and the whole Embassy staff was far beyond their line of duty, and I shall never cease to be grateful.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 11, 1959

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.