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

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NEW YORK—This past week I spent two days in Portland, Ore., and two days in Denver, Colo., to attend regional meetings for the American Association for the United Nations.

Professor and Mrs. C. Capper-Johnson made the plans for my time in Portland, and the meeting was well attended and everything moved smoothly. In Denver a greater number of state presidents were present, covering the area from New Mexico to Wyoming, but we regretted having no one from Montana or Utah.

The weather was warm and delightful and when I retired on Saturday night in Denver it might have been late summer, but I awoke in the morning to two inches of snow. The little evergreen trees looked beautiful and snow was falling steadily.

My one fear was that my plane to New York would be grounded, but my Denver grandchildren told me at once that I was overanxious. Planes always flew, they said, and this was nothing to bother them. Why, I would be out of the snow 10 minutes after leaving Denver. And they were correct, but even Denver was clearing up by the time I left at noon.

I heard a good deal during my trip about the attacks in certain areas on the U.N. by such organizations as the John Birch Society and the Christian Anti-Communists, but I was assured that interest in the U.N. only grew as a result of these attacks and that more people came to offer to work for the world organization. The opposition, instead of frightening people away from the U.N., was rallying them to its support.

I feel that these attacks as well as those made by the Soviets on the Secretary–General's office and the U.N. as a whole have made a great many people realize it is the extremists on both sides who are opposed to the U.N. And since most people are not extremists, they are able to see that our own extreme right is playing the game of the Communists.

I did find, however, that certain published stories have had an effect upon the people to the point that a great many are beginning to feel that war is inevitable and, therefore, they must give more thought to the possibility of survival in the event of war.

It is not surprising, then, to find that business enterprises have sprung up ready to provide the gullible with a shelter which they can put in their own back yards. And many people are building expensive shelters without apparently realizing that any real undertaking of this kind must be a government undertaking, and that there is no assurance whatsoever that what anyone does on his own will meet the final need of the individual or the community.

There is, however, a real need to find something which people can do. I am being swamped with letters saying, "The President has stated that we should think what we can do for our country. In this crisis we should be working for peace."

What is the most effective way to do it?

I'm sure I cannot say, but I was interested in an advertisement I saw in The New York Times (Nov. 14), written and paid for by an individual named Glenn Frank of 30 Fifth Avenue, New York. He and his wife evidently felt this surge among people who feel they must do something to preserve peace in the world and be makes a constructive suggestion. (Ed. note: Mr. Frank proposes a Free Citizens Fund for foreign economic aid.) I have no idea whether his project is a good one, and it would certainly need working out with our government. But I was glad to see someone advocating that people do something, for it will calm perhaps the fear people have had which has led them to indulge in the purchase of shelters that probably could be completely valueless.

I imagine Governor Rockefeller, in suggesting that people build individual family shelters, feels it is better to give people an outlet for their fears and their energies, but I wish he had given us who live in this state a somewhat more constructive suggestion. We want to show our government that we back it in every way we can and give the President a feeling of a unified country behind him when he must negotiate with Mr. Khrushchev. It would be a relief to have some sensible, constructive ideas advocated, for otherwise I am afraid we will waste much of the strength which could be conserved and used to good advantage.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 15, 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.