My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PORT HURON, Mich. —Considerable excitement has been stirred up by the President's decision to prevent the flow of gold abroad by bringing home the families of servicemen and not allowing new families to go abroad, and I wonder whether with some effort and careful investigation the outflow of gold could not be stopped in some other way.

To send our American servicemen to different parts of the world for two or three years with no opportunity to see their families is a far greater hardship than perhaps some people realize. A wife left at home, even at a base where she is known and has friends, is still very lonely. She is usually young, and suddenly the full responsibility of the family is hers; and in addition she is probably worried because her young husband is away from her. If she goes home to her family she is conscious that she adds to the problems there, and before long some kind of friction may arise.

This situation will be a source of concern to the boy across the ocean and, I believe, make him on the whole a poorer American ambassador. For in peacetime our soldiers abroad are ambassadors, just as their wives may be ambassadors. If our young women learn to know and to value the friendship of the women of other nations, it increases the goodwill between nations. Hence it seems to me that this is not a wise peacetime move, and will lead to trouble in our armed forces. I do not know what the financial experts could come up with to change the unfavorable balance in the gold situation, but I am sure there must be other avenues apart from this particular one.

Another matter that could have a widespread effect, though for the moment it applies only to New York City, is the Heald Report on higher education, which contains a recommendation that tuition fees be charged in city colleges.

Undoubtedly there are people who could afford to pay for their college tuition who take advantage in New York of our free city colleges and universities. On the other hand, New York has pioneered in the field of free higher education in the hope that this would also spread to other areas of our country. It may also be well to remember that the Soviet Union gives not only free tuition but a living allowance to those they deem capable of profiting by higher education; and at the same time they put before students capitalist incentives of additions to their living allowances if they will learn new languages. Are we so indifferent to our need not to waste human material that we would take away from lower-income families this opportunity for higher education, even though it goes only as far as providing free tuition?

We do not seem to have awakened in this country to the fact that we cannot afford to waste intelligence. A boy or girl who has the brains but not the money should not be obliged to go through a family "means" test in order to go through college without paying fees. Many a boy will simply decide not to go to college. Yet if we look at the list of graduates in our City College of N.Y. , for example, I think we will feel that they have amply repaid any money it has cost the city for their education. Just Bernard M. Baruch alone has returned to New York City a thousand-fold whatever was given him!

Perhaps there is some way of arranging for those families who feel they can afford to pay to do so on a voluntary basis. But the basic idea of free higher education for those who are capable of passing the academic tests seems to me one that we should not relinquish as long as there is any way that we can preserve it.

I wonder how our naval patrol of Latin American waters can discover a Communist-led invasion of Guatamala or Nicaragua unless it assumes rather large propotions? The shipping of arms to rebels in these countries undoubtedly would be done in hidden ways on small boats camouflaged by regular cargoes. Unless we are planning to put on a tremendous patrol, I should think this would be an extremely difficult thing to prevent. Somehow, I cannot believe that the Soviet Union is going to send troops to these different areas. Arms may come through Cuba and we may stop a few small boats, and I can only pray that the move is a wise one and does not lead to any real trouble.


(Copyright, 1960, By United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Port Huron (Mich., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 21, 1960

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.