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

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HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I found it very hard during the war to have much patience with the young men who were conscientious objectors. I knew that in those cases where they belonged to religions which did not permit them to take part in war, it often required more courage on their part to live up to their convictions than it would have taken to go into the services and serve with the majority of their friends. In spite of that, it was hard to keep down the feeling that they were exercising this freedom to live up to their religious beliefs at the expense of some other boy's sacrifice.

Now we face the fact that scientists have made it possible for us to do such a successful job of exterminating other human beings that, unless we stop doing it in the mass way we call war, the human race will commit suicide. I hope we are going to have the courage to give up war and find ways of living peacefully together. It is not going to be easy, and the amount of self-discipline it is going to require is quite appalling. It is also going to require more thinking on our part and some real convictions—two things that most of us don't find easy.

* * *

For this reason, I want to speak today of two stories which I read lately.

One is the story of the death of a 27-year old conscientious objector, Warren G. Dugan, who was fatally stricken while working as a laboratory technician at the Yale School of Medicine, where experiments in poliomyelitis were being carried on. Two other conscientious objectors were working with him. They aided the scientists in innoculating monkeys with the disease germs and studying their reactions. There is always a risk in this type of work, though it is considered slight.

This young man was living up to the highest call of duty, as he saw it. He had previously volunteered for work in a state hospital for mental diseases in Norwich, Conn. Many other conscientious objectors have worked in various state hospitals; and though some of the civil service employees object to the statement, I think it is truthful to say that these volunteers have raised the standards of care for the mentally ill. They did their work with devotion and often with religious fervor such as is rarely contributed by the usual paid attendant.

* * *

The second story was about a young veteran, recently out of a hospital, who undertook to picket Senator Bilbo's office because of some of the Senator's letters which have recently been published in the papers. I take my hat off to Mr. Edward Bykowski. He has convictions, and he lives up to them.

Both young men thought and lived up to their convictions. May their example inspire many of us.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Bilbo, Theodore Gilmore, 1877-1947 [ index ]
         American senator, governor of Mississippi
         [ LC | VIAF | Wikidata | SNAC ]
  • Bykowski, Edward (World War II US Navy veteran) [ index ]
         American WWII veteran, minority rights advocate, truck driver
  • Dugan, Warren G., -1945 [ index ]
         American lab technician; known for being a conscientious objector
  • Yale University [ index ]
         [ LC ]
  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 5, 1945

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | LC | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | Wikidata | SNAC ]

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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  • Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
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  • Black, Allida M. (Editor)
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  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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  • Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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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 June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.