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

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NEW YORK—One of the many countries in the world for which we have a certain amount of responsibility at present is South Vietnam. An organization called the American Friends of Vietnam has been trying to help alleviate some of the trials that the Vietnamese people have suffered as a result of a serious natural calamity in the form of a series of floods in the Mekong River basin. Many children were lost in these floods.

Probably by now, the time of the full moon having past, the floods are beginning to recede. At this time, of course, doctors will have to try to prevent epidemics, and help from this country will be very much needed in the way of food and clothes.

For the Vietnamese the animal which serves every purpose is the buffalo and many of these have been drowned. Much farm machinery has been ruined and stored rice has been destroyed in the disaster. Also, a great number of pigs and much poultry have been lost.

The American Friends of Vietnam is collecting medical supplies, blankets, soap and similar items. Some of our nation's largest pharmaceutical organizations are giving their drugs for the relief of victims. Gifts of penicillin and other antibiotics as well as vitamins and other food supplements are being shipped to the Vietnamese Red Cross.

It is hoped that many people who have not been aware of the needs in Vietnam and are ignorant of our responsibility to help in South Vietnam will now come forward and offer whatever they can in this emergency. This plea and the fact that the American Friends of Vietnam feel that the American people are not conscious of our responsibility in this small country brings to my mind a problem before us.

As a nation we need to be awakened to the fact that our help is alleviating conditions that might otherwise cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people.

With our usual absorption in our own affairs we have done absolutely nothing, as far as I can see, to correlate the work of our various government departments and to have a channel, perhaps in the State Department, through which this information covering our responsibilities and how we are meeting them in every corner of the world could flow to the people of our country.

Some years ago there was a liaison man in the State Department who kept in touch with reports sent in by other government departments and with the State Department's representatives and gave news to the press. We seem to be lacking in that area today.

If there were a regularly organized method through which the work of every department, where it touched other areas of the world, was reported to a central agency and our public was made aware of the needs of the world and the way we were meeting them, we would be on our way to becoming a world-minded people.

The past few days have been the most beautiful autumn days and I had the good luck to be driving through Connecticut and part of Massachusetts.

I spoke in Mystic, Connecticut, at a meeting sponsored by the Marine Historical Association. The seaport museum there has been considerably developed since I saw it a few years ago and has as many as 4,000 visitors on a summer's day.

Much of the history of the sea and seafaring people in that area of New England can be traced in this museum. And not the least interesting item to me personally is the small sailing boat called the Vireo, which my husband brought up on the deck of a destroyer to Campobello Island years ago. He had given his own larger schooner to the government during the war, and he wanted a smaller boat in which the children could learn to sail.

Campobello is a good coast on which to learn to be a sailor. The tides are unusually high. They usually run from 20 to 25 feet, and in narrow passageways there may be a succession of small whirlpools. A really knowledgeable navigator, if the winds are out, can often get home by working the eddies along the coast.

This takes long experience but my husband had that, and while he was a careful seaman at times he could be rather adventurous! Seeing the little Vireo, I am sure, could recall many happy and interesting memories to the boys in our family.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 8, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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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.