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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON—When the announcement was made last September of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold's tragic death in Africa while on a mission to seek a cease-fire in the Congo crisis, there was a universal sense throughout the world that it had lost a very great citizen.

Back on October 24, 1960, the birthday anniversary of the U.N., Hammarskjold had said: "No matter how deep the shadows may be, how sharp the conflicts, how tense the mistrust, we are not permitted to forget that we have too much in common, too great a sharing of interests, and too much that we might lose together for ourselves and for succeeding generations, ever to weaken in our efforts to surmount the difficulties and not to turn the simple human values, which are our common heritage, into the firm foundation on which we may unite our strength and live together in peace."

The world now would like to see living memorials to the Secretary General carried on in many different places, and to that end nations have formed their national committees to work under the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. Some of the programs foreseen in the furtherance of his deepest concern will include:

1. Training citizens of newly developing countries to hold responsible positions in their government or in the development of their economy.

2. Encouraging fulfillment of his unique contribution in mediation, conciliation and peaceful settlement.

3. Promoting such other programs as would correspond to his vision of the role of the U.N. in furthering national growth of economic and social welfare.

The headquarters of the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation is in Stockholm, with the board of trustees made up of people from all over the world. In the U. S. a national committee has been formed which will give the American people an opportunity to participate in the objectives of the foundation.

The first response I know of to this opportunity has come from the seventh grade pupils of St. Paul's Parochial School in Jersey City, N. J. On May 4 they presented to Adlai Stevenson, Permanent U. S. Representative to the U. N. and a member of the board of trustees of the committee, a contribution toward the national fund being raised by the U. S. for the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. This was the first school class in the country to make such a contribution, and they were accompanied to the U. S. headquarters by three sisters, including the school's principal, and both last year's and this year's teacher of the class.

These youngsters even a year ago were taking a keen interest in the U. N. They had come to admire the Secretary General greatly, and when he was under attack they wrote individually to encourage him.

"I want you to know," wrote one little girl, "that I think you are doing a great job." A boy wrote: "I hope to have your dignity and honesty when I grow up."

Subtle praise, this, which probably helped the Secretary General to meet the slings and arrows being thrown at him at that time. Hammarskjold responded to the admiration of this class by sending a telegram of appreciation to their teacher, and this year's Grade Seven never slackened in its devotion and admiration. It brought the first gift toward the living memorial to show that they were still behind the Secretary General's first interest—world peace and freedom.

One of the things Dag Hammarskjold was aware of was the need for trained personnel to carry on government services in the newly developing countries and to organize the business and finances which would give them a stable national economy. In most of the newly developing countries literacy is one of the great problems. That is why a great many of our Peace Corps students go to teach—in the hope that the general population may reach a point where they can understand the issues confronting their countries and back up the leadership which is so slowly and painfully acquiring the knowledge of government and of world economy.

Every individual in the U. S. will want to participate by contributing to this foundation. They should send their contributions to the U. S. Committee of Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Room 2008, 155 East 44th Street, New York 17, N. Y.

E. R.

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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 7, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.