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

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HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I have just received from Denver a copy of a letter written by a young Marine to his wife. Because it was not written by an older man, it carries great weight.

This man's name is Corp. Charles Vigil. He is 22 years old, has spent 11 months in the Korean fighting and has been wounded twice. He has never seen his son, now eight months old. If anyone should be discontented, you might expect it of so young a man under these circumstances. But he seems to know quite well what he is fighting for and to think it worth while.

His wife said he wrote the following letter because she has been complaining. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver published it and it is from their article that I shall quote. I only wish I had space for the whole letter.

"...First of all I can understand why you feel the way you do about the Marine Corps, but you are letting me down...First you ask whether I like being away from you all the time. Well, that in itself is the silliest damn thing to ask. Of course, I don't like it. As for not seeing our son and having a home of our own, well, I want that, too. But so far we just haven't had the opportunity.

"What makes me mad is you blame all this on the service, which is wrong entirely. Where would the United States be now if it didn't have the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and yes, even the Army. Whenever there is a war, you always see that a lot of men are proud that they were able in some way or another to evade the services and sit back in the States, while someone else goes out and fights and dies for the freedom and luxury they like so much. I thank God that the ones like that are few compared to those that are willing to risk their lives to preserve our freedom.

"As for little Chuck, well, I haven't seen him yet. But I have no doubt that some day soon I shall see him. But what good would his father be to him if the Communists were to take over? I love you both very much, darling, but I would rather die for you and him and all America stands for before I would let communism spread until it controls the world.

"...Some civilians think very little of the men in the service and probably think we enjoy being over here fighting and killing. Well, it isn't something you enjoy doing, believe me. I'll never be able to describe or tell you of the suffering and sorrow you encounter over here."

That is a pretty fine letter and it certainly comes from a man who knows what he is fighting for and why he is in the Marines.

It is to protect men like this that we are trying today to build up our defenses so that no one will dare to attack us. But at the same time we must prove to so many people in the world that we care about them as people, that all people, regardless of color or creed, mean something to us and that we want to help them to have happier lives.

This will put an extra burden on us in addition to the burden of military preparations which we have to carry, and I know there are people who cannot bear any extra burden. Therefore, we must hope that our leaders will be wise and carefully allocate these burdens and make them fall as equitably as possible on all of us.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 1, 1951

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.