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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON—The weekend was a bad time to come in from the balmy south of Florida and return to the rain, snow and wind of New York City, but we were so grateful to get in approximately on time that I hardly took notice of the weather. These last few days before I go abroad are so crowded with various obligations that if anything goes wrong with my plane schedules I will find it difficult to accomplish all that I am supposed to do before leaving.

From newspaper accounts, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina is apparently trying to investigate the average Marine's knowledge in the area of Communism. If he wants them to be able to define "dialectic materialism," I think he should begin with the nation's schools. He will have to be quite sure that our boys and girls are taught much more about Communist theory than has ever been considered necessary in the past.

In any case, we are becoming strangely cloak-and-daggerish when a Senator of the United States says that a letter disappeared from the briefcase of one of his aides during a visit to Marine headquarters in the Pentagon "while he turned his head away." This is really comic opera. Anyone who carries a briefcase knows that in taking out other papers he may drop a letter, or a paper that he did not intend to bring out may slip through his fingers. Picked up and placed on someone's desk it may prove of interest to that person; but if you travel around with a great many papers, this little incident of losing a letter is not an impossible thing to imagine. It is only the air of mystery that seems to blow it up past all belief.

One somehow hopes that the sensible treatment of Marines, which teaches them to love their country but bars teaching them to hate any particular people, may be allowed to continue without much more of these opera bouffe performances. It seems out of place not only where the Marine Corps is concerned but actually where any group of citizens is involved. We would do far better, I think, to devote our time in our schools teaching the history of the United States, the values of democracy and the basis on which these are founded. It will help us much more to know why we live by certain principles which sparked the imagination of thousands of people, bringing them to this country as a haven where freedom and justice could be fostered, than it will to know certain details of Communist doctrine. The general outline of where Communism and democracy differ comes out very clearly if we study some of the historical documents which established democracy and then see how they were carried out in this country and grew into the government under law which we now cherish.

The GOP in Congress is apparently clamoring to have Robert Kennedy come home. Are they afraid of the contrast between the way he handled the Communist debates and the way our former Vice President handled them?

Even the Communist labor unions in Japan do not have the strength that labor unions have in many other countries. An effort has been made to strengthen all the labor unions, and it would certainly be very helpful if the Attorney General's invitation were accepted by Akira Iwai, the 39-year-old Secretary General of Sohyo. It would be an experience for a Japanese labor leader to sit in with our labor leaders in this country, and I think he would find it difficult to continue calling us imperialists. Our young Attorney General, with his quick mind and his active interest in many things, must be a surprise to some of the Japanese labor leaders, who at best are not over-articulate.

Show business has an organization called Variety Clubs International, which today begins what is known as Variety Week. Performers have demonstrated for many years in many ways that their hearts are easily touched by the hardships of the people they entertain, particularly the hardships of children. The Variety Clubs International operate under a type of circus organization, calling their groups in different places "tents." This year they have many plans for telling their local communities about the great work they do, day in and day out, through their numerous charities. Those of us who enjoy their entertainment must take an interest also in what they call "the heart" of show business, and as they explain their work during this Variety Week I hope people everywhere will be interested in their story.


(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 12, 1962

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
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

TEI-P5 edition published on 2017-04-28

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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.