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

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NEW YORK—The most exciting piece of news on Tuesday was that the President and Mrs. Kennedy will go abroad on May 31 to visit President de Gaulle in Paris. President de Gaulle came here to visit President Eisenhower and, with his sensitivity to upholding the dignity of France, he quite naturally wants a return visit by the President of the United States.

I hope President Kennedy will be able to bring about closer understanding and a more relaxed mood on the part of President de Gaulle. The latter's fear of being submerged, or rather of having France submerged, has led him to fear also cooperation where it is quite evident that cooperation is the only answer that will be of benefit to the West as whole.

General de Gaulle has won his place in history. No one ever doubted his courage as a soldier, but he showed even greater courage, I think, when he took over in France at a most critical period and met France's immediate problems. But after one has made certain points it is sometimes better to relax a little and accept the fact that the time when a nation could stand alone is really past and that cooperation is essential to meet many of the problems we of the West face in the world today.

The other day I received a letter that could have been written by many other women who may be troubled over the fact that a relative or relatives who served in the armed forces and died may have no identification where they lie or, if they were not identified, their names may not be listed to show that they served their country and made the supreme sacrifice.

The letter led me to make an inquiry which was answered by Gen. Jacob L. Devers, USA (Ret.), who is chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission. This commission was established in 1923 and set as its primary objective the national commemoration of all those who in all parts of the world laid down their lives in their country's service.

When I received General Devers' letter I recalled immediately that I had gone to the Brittany cemetery and had seen the war memorial in France and had taken two of my grandsons who were on the trip with me. It occurred to me at the time that every American who visits a country where our soldiers had served in a war should, whenever possible, visit these memorials. If we neglect them, those in charge might feel a lack of public interest and a loss of incentive to give the care and upkeep to grounds surrounding the memorial or to walls where names are inscribed or even to cemeteries with their rows of white crosses.

Additional memorials have been or are being built on the East Coast and the West Coast of the U.S. and at Honolulu. Furthermore, the commission, upon the request of the next of kin, makes a practice of furnishing a colored lithographic photograph of the cemetery in which the deceased is buried or commemorated, together with a photograph of the grave or of a section of the wall of the memorial upon which the deceased's name is engraved.

I think all families of servicemen will be glad to know of the work of the American Battle Monuments Commission. A pamphlet has just been issued by the commission which lists and describes all the cemeteries and memorials and it can be obtained by writing to the commission. It will help families when they are abroad to visit the areas where our men are buried and where their names are inscribed.

Many people have not even seen the monument here in New York City—at Battery Park, which is at the southern end of Manhattan Island. It was erected to commemorate those soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Gaurdsmen and airmen who met their death in the Western waters of the Atlantic during World War II.

The West Coast memorial is in the Presidio of San Francisco, near the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. This was erected in memory of those sailors, soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and airmen who met their death in the coastal waters of the Pacific during World War II.

All the names inscribed commemorate those who died, and it interests me always to see from how many different countries we drew our fighting men. They were all Americans, of course, everyone of them, but their families came here from many different parts of the world, and no color or creed or national origin makes any difference in the sacrifice which they and their families made for the U.S.

I could not help thinking of this while I watched a preview of a movie the other night, called "Anna's Sin," which deals with one phase of the color problem here in our country. An arresting story, it is delicately handled and is interesting from beginning to end. If and when it is commercially produced, I am sure it will be of interest to many people. Though the theme may be deduced from the title, "Anna's Sin," it makes one wonder exactly whose sin it is.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 5, 1961

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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.