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

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NEW YORK, Tuesday—Just before one o'clock this morning, I turned on my radio to hear the last news of the night. We went from the strains of band music straight to the announcement of John G. Winant's tragic death.

My husband and I both admired him and, what was more important, we trusted him completely. He was an unselfish public servant who gave himself completely to his work during the war, and is as truly a war casualty as any of our other soldiers. In peacetime as well he was a valuable public servant, with a broad vision and a deep sympathy for all men.

He helped us win the war, and I am sure that, if he had kept his health, he would have filled some vital niche in the battle of winning the peace. He had imagination enough so that he might have helped us to find the thing we need above all others today—the key to building confidence between the eastern European states and ourselves.

I knew he was ill last summer when we were together at the Hobart-Smith College commencement. The pain and the desperate weariness could not be hidden then, and since then he has worked unceasingly. He had been to Switzerland and Great Britain this past summer, and has written feverishly, finishing his memoirs. His friends watched with deep misgivings, begging him to rest yet knowing quite well that something within him would not let him rest.

For his family, this way of going must have been a sad shock. But they have a heritage from him which they can cherish all the days of their lives, for no one who knew the motives from which he acted could ever believe that courage and unselfishness were not the mainsprings of whatever he did.

* * *

In the International Labor Organization and in the Social Security Administration, Mr. Winant has left two great achievements to which he contributed much. He was director of the former for many years, and he organized the latter. The ILO might easily have been lost during the war years if it had not been for his foresight and action in moving its headquarters from Switzerland to Canada. The setting-up years of any experiment such as the Social Security Administration are crucial years. It was he who built the good foundation.

My husband counted on him heavily. And when people tried to belittle him, as is always the case with any man in public office, my husband would smile and hardly bother to refute the statements, for he knew so well that big men cannot be touched by little people.

The statesmen and the people of Great Britain will mourn him, for they know better perhaps than our own people what his service as Ambassador to Great Britain meant to us all during the war.

The people of his own state of New Hampshire were fortunate to have him as Governor during the years of depression, for they owe many of their best developments to that period.

The record is a good one. One can say! "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." But the heart weeps for the loss of a friend and for the loss of the possibilities for service which still lay before him.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 5, 1947

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 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.