Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day (1945)

March 28, 1945

NEW YORK, Tuesday – I saw a bluebird and a robin yesterday! It is not as warm here and spring is not as far along as in Washington. Still, the feel of it is in the air, and there is a fresh, green look about the shoots that are poking their heads above ground which makes you want to settle down in the country and have nothing whatsoever to do with bricks and mortar for a long while. But bricks and mortar exist and engagements go on, and people concentrate in big cities, so here I am in New York, where at 1 o’clock I go to the Cosmopolitan Club to speak at one of their membership lunches.


At 3:30 I go on to Carnegie Hall to celebrate the awarding of the Army-Navy E to the Lighthouse Workshop of the Blind, and at 4:30 I attend a meeting of the sponsoring committee preparing for the African Dance Festival on April 4 at Carnegie Hall.

At 7 o’clock I attend a dinner at the Commodore Hotel given by the New York Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, when “Council House,” a settlement house built in 1929 by the Council of Jewish Women for an underprivileged Jewish group, is being presented to an equally underprivileged Negro community now settled in this area.

Midnight will see me back on the train to Washington and I think I shall sleep well, since the day looks somewhat busy!


I read with interest this morning’s column by Walter Lippmann on the San Francisco conference, and I feel that his remarks are justified if there is the faintest idea of actually writing a charter to cover the future peace of the world. If the aim and object of the delegates, however, is to agree on some kind of world organization, which will then, at some future time, proceed to meet and slowly and painstakingly evolve a charter covering the first points which present themselves as important to us all, then we should have hopes of success.

A body of international law can only be built up over the years, it seems to me, and it would be impossible at any one time to cover in any charter the various situations which will necessitate changes to meet new and specific conditions at different times. The main objective, from my point of view, is to have a place where anything which troubles the world can be brought out and aired. It will be known by all whenever anyone is foolhardy enough to want to go to war; and their impulses in that direction can be controlled, not by one or two people, but by the united public opinion of the whole group of nations.

March 29, 1945

WASHINGTON, Wednesday – I am sure that many of you feel as I do – that you are perpetually waiting for something. Every time you open a paper and every time you turn on the radio, you hope to hear that the end of hostilities has come in Europe.

I read in the paper yesterday morning that a number of German people keep asking why we continue bombing and destroying their cities and countryside. A plea was made for more propaganda on our part so that the Germans should understand the war and their part in it. It seems fairly obvious that they must understand it or they would not insist on continuing their resistance.


The awarding of the Army-Navy “E” to the blind workers of the Lighthouse Workshop of the Blind yesterday was one of the most moving ceremonies I have attended. A blinded marine, the recipient of many medals for heroism on Guadalcanal, gave the “E” pin to some special workers. The achievements of the blind, who have been working for some time in their own workshop, must be a great encouragement to the men who have been blinded in this war. Since the government has been able to get such good work from the blind men and women for the war effort, one cannot help hoping that employers will take note of what can be done with training in spite of their handicap. Blind people should have the opportunity and satisfaction of earning their livelihood in the future on an equal basis with other workers.

I spent two hours at Walter Reed Hospital this morning, first taking part in one of their regular forum series, and then answering questions for another hour. Among the questions was one from a man who said that in the past he found a physical handicap caused an employer to be unwilling to employ a man for fear of accident, or because he doubted his ability to do the job as well as a man with no physical handicap. One can only hope that it will be possible to prove to employers that, with training, a physically handicapped person can do the job to which he is adjusted and for which he is trained as well as any other worker, and can do it with a minimum of risk because he is trained to take the necessary precautions.


After lunch a group of about 30 men from Fort Meade Regional Hospital came to see the White House. We had some light refreshments and talked for about an hour. The day was so beautiful that we were able to show them the South Portico, since they were particularly anxious to see where the inauguration ceremonies were held.

I have a number of appointments to fill up the rest of the afternoon, and tonight I go to a dinner given by the Farmers Union for some of their workers. James Patton, who is head of the Farmers Union, has a great vision for the future of the small farmer throughout the nation.

March 30, 1945

WASHINGTON, Thursday – Last night’s dinner proved to be a real victory dinner for Aubrey Williams. Instead of just meeting with the National Farmers Union workers, state presidents and staff, it was quite a distinguished roster of Cabinet members, Senators and Representatives from both parties which James Patton called upon to rise. I think perhaps it was more than a victory dinner for an individual, because every occurrence which touches the life of the people and makes them really look into some particular thing that has happened in government must eventually bring greater education to them. I am one of those who willingly live in a democracy where we wait for education so that we abide by genuine majority rule, because that is real rule by the people. Victory is always attained when more people become really thinking citizens.

Aubrey Williams himself does not need praise from any one of us. He lives up to his convictions, and that knowledge within one’s own soul is better than any outside praise.


The National Society for Crippled Children and Adults of Elyria, Ohio, has asked me to remind as many people as possible than when they buy Easter seals they are contributing to the care of crippled children, and that the campaign ends on April 1. They tell me, for instance, that the cerebral palsy clinic conducted by the District of Columbia Society for Crippled Children is financed from the sale of Easter seals. Like the tuberculosis seals which all of us have bought around Christmas time for many years past, this sale is becoming a fixture in our minds, and I am quite sure that everyone gladly contributes his small mite which swells into such a great benefaction.


The United National Clothing Collection is calling everybody’s attention to the fact that April 8 to 14 will be the period during which their workers will come to every door, asking if you are observing “Clean Out Your Clothes Closet” week. Even if you are not visited by one of their workers, you will be told over the radio where you can send your contribution to this gigantic effort.

In a letter to Henry J. Kaiser, Mrs. H. Cleo Burris of Redlands, California, suggested a thought which many of us may well remember: “Am I wearing it now? If not, out it goes.” That is a good slogan, but don’t confine your closet cleaning to clothes alone. Remember that all over the world there are people whose household goods have been completely destroyed. Among the few things we will be able to send them in the next few months are materials which can be packed with other necessary things that have to be shipped for the war. These materials can be poked into corners, or in between packing cases, and they will mean a great deal to the comfort of the men, women and children who have undergone far more hardships for a far longer time than any of us.

March 31, 1945

WASHINGTON, Friday – Yesterday at my press conference I was again asked about food in this country, and every now and then I get a letter from someone who becomes entirely hysterical because she cannot buy meat in the particular place where she lives and who thinks that she and her family are about to starve.

These people do not realize that the same values which exist in meat are present in eggs, fish or cheese, and a short time without meat will do no one any harm. The average consumption of meat per person per year, before the war, was 126 pounds. All during the war, civilians have eaten a great deal more than that. For the first time there is about 8 percent less meat than before the war.

One problem which aggravates the shortage of meat is the difference in distribution between the different types of slaughtering. First, there is the slaughtering on farms; second, in plants which are not government inspected; and third, in plants under federal inspection. These last plants are the only ones which can sell to the Army and Navy and which can ship meat across state lines. People in rural areas get more meat than their average; people in big cities get less. The government is taking steps now to make a fairer distribution to different types of slaughtering plants.


I saw two very interesting films last night. One was a film being used in our military hospitals to help the men get a better attitude and have more hope in facing their various handicaps. The other was a quiz kid film which the Department of Agriculture has produced to promote a balanced school lunch program. I hope we will grow in knowledge of the use of food, for it is one of the important things in the life of every child and every adult. Sometimes I think, however, that we indulge ourselves a little when we decide that there are certain simple, everyday things that we do not care to eat. Of course, doctors have to cut out foods which are apparently disagreeing with children or adults, but many times people will indulge themselves in tastes where a little perseverance would make them eat things that are really good for them.


This afternoon I am going to attend a tea which marks the closing of a training course conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service for the state chairmen of public health and welfare of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. From what I hear, this course has been not only interesting, but very valuable, and I am glad to have the chance to meet with these chairmen this afternoon.

In the evening I shall attend the “War Workers Week” ceremony at the National Archives Auditorium, which is sponsored by the women’s auxiliary of the United Federal Workers of America to pay tribute to the women whose relatives are in the armed forces.

April 2, 1945

WASHINGTON, Sunday – I had some very pleasant guests at lunch yesterday. One of them, just back from Europe and stationed here for a short time, was able to tell me news of our son in that area. In addition, one of my cousins has brought his little boy to spend Easter and I know nothing nicer than the undisguised enthusiasm of a little child! He walked out in the White House grounds Saturday morning, looked all about and said to his father: “Isn’t this a beautiful place?” The rest of us may think it, but we so rarely say it.

As I walked along the street Saturday morning, I saw something which amused me greatly. A sailor and his wife, or perhaps it may have been his girl, were walking down the street. She handed him her bag, the better to play with a very lovely new fur jacket. She was so evidently showing it off, and in spite of the fact that I knew she must be very warm, I could not help feeling pleased for her that she had on something which gave her so much pleasure. It is wonderful to be young, when “things” can give you pleasure!


The newly appointed Minister of Syria, Dr. Nazem Koudsi, called on me in the afternoon, and a little later I had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Carter Collins of Fort Benning, Georgia. Miss Katharine Lenroot of the Children’s Bureau has been telling me about her for some time, since she has done a great deal of work with Army wives there.

At 5 o’clock Miss Gertrude Warren, of the Department of Agriculture, brought Sgt. Lester Schlup to see me to tell me of Edison College in Florida.

This is Easter Sunday, and Miss Thompson and I as usual went to the early service at the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb, conducted by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. At 11 o’clock, with some of my other guests, I went to the services at St. Thomas Church.

A few friends came to lunch, and my two nieces from school and college are here for their short Easter vacation, so we have quite a family party, to which my old friend, Mrs. Charles Fayerweather of New Lebanon, New York, is added.


I have just received word that April 2 through 7 will be observed by a quarter of a million boys throughout the country as National Boys Club Week. This year will mark the 39th anniversary of the founding of Boys Clubs of America, a philanthropic organization headed by the Hon. Herbert Hoover. There are 250 member clubs, which provide places for wholesome recreation under constructive leadership for boys in congested areas. This year the boys are saving their pennies to buy a portable ice cream plant to send to some soldiers in the Pacific.

April 3, 1945

WASHINGTON, Monday – We were joined at luncheon yesterday by Mrs. Charles Dana Gibson, who is in Washington on her way back to New York City from Virginia. The younger members of the family were fascinated by her, because she is still the Gibson girl of her husband’s drawings; and though some of the youngsters had never heard of the Gibson girl, they fell a victim to her charm of manner and her beauty. All of the Langhorne sisters are people one has to notice! Her sister, Lady Astor, sometimes brings irritation down on her head, but admiration as well. She never goes unnoticed!

Every minute of the day yesterday was beautiful, and I do not think I have ever enjoyed the spring flowering of bushes and trees as I have this year.

At 1 a.m. I listened to the radio and went to sleep considerably cheered by the news that our new landings in the Pacific had been made with so little opposition. Just why seems a mystery, and I wonder if the Japanese are trying some new tricks. But I think our men are pretty well accustomed to tricks by now and will not be caught napping.


The American Association for the United Nations has notified me that a number of governors have issued proclamations calling on citizens of their states to observe Dumbarton Oaks Week, from April 16 to 22. The observance of this week implies that groups will meet and discuss the proposals; that everybody will individually read and understand what these proposals are, realizing that they are just proposals. Senator Vandenberg has said that he wished any organization to be more or less fluid and able to change as need arose. The rest of us, I think, must understand that whatever organization is set up will undoubtedly change in every section to meet changed conditions in different situations.

There is a great deal of excitement at present over the question of votes in the assembly. This has always seemed to me a point which would have to come up for discussion, since in some cases there are more people combined in a single group, whereas in others there is a different combination of people. But that is why we have the San Francisco conference. If there were not these questions, there would be no point in having a conference.


There is also a great deal of excitement about the meat situation in our own country and in Canada, and articles are written explaining the various reasons for this and that. They need to be written, and people need to understand many things which at present they know little about. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot come to agreements and set up an organization where such things can continue to be discussed in the future!

April 4, 1945

WASHINGTON, Tuesday – I had the pleasure yesterday of having a small group of the Cabinet ladies at luncheon. At 3 o’clock the chorus from Winged Victory came to the White House with Lt. Col. Walter M. Dunham. I had collected most of my guests from the service hospitals on this same day so they could have the pleasure of hearing this chorus, and for three-quarters of an hour we sat in the East Room and enjoyed a musical program which featured individual soloists as well as group singing. All of the men enjoyed it, and I was most grateful to the singers.

While we were being served refreshments in the State Dining Room, and the men were wandering around the rooms, I signed innumerable short-snorter bills and scraps of paper of every kind.

In the evening I attended the Business and Professional Women’s dinner, and a group of young Navy men from the Navy’s School of Music played for us. It certainly added to the enjoyment of the tired business women present!


This morning I went at 10 o’clock to the naturalization ceremonies at the District Court. There must have been a group of some 60 people about to be granted their citizenship. After the presentation of the colors, the judge addressed them and then asked me to say a few words. It was a much nicer ceremony than many which I have witnessed in the past, and I am always very glad when we do something which really gives the proper dignity to the acquiring of new citizenship.


I wonder how many Democrats actually know how the rooster came to be the Democratic Party’s emblem. I am very sure that any number of young people think the donkey, and the donkey alone, is the party’s emblem. But someone wrote me the other day of a little book entitled The Rooster, which was written many years ago by John Fowler Mitchell Jr.

“At the close of a most notable campaign in American history,” says the author, “when a Democratic victory had swept the country from coast to coast, it is fitting that the story of the party’s emblem – the rooster – be told in this little volume, for it was in the heart of Indiana in a pioneer campaign back in 1840 that this proud bird came into its own. To be more exact, the emblem’s birthplace was Greenfield, Hancock County, Indiana, and its originator Joseph Chapman, one of her famous sons.”

If you want to know more you will have to look up the book in the Congressional Library, but I thought my fellow Democrats, if they did not already know it, might be amused to learn where their original emblem had had its birth. And if they happen to like James Whitcomb Riley as much as I do, they will be glad to know that Greenfield is also his birthplace, so we can claim a mutual tie.

April 5, 1945

WASHINGTON, Wednesday – I was very much interested yesterday morning talking with Judge Anna M. Kross, who is planning the General Federation of Women’s Clubs’ program for the National Youth Conservation Clearing House. It seems to me it would be very valuable to have all the agencies interested in working with young people come together to discuss their programs and to see how best they can do all the work which needs to be done. Meanwhile, I am following their proposals with a great deal of interest.

At 12:30 I talked for a few minutes with young Svend-Aage Beyer-Pedersen, chairman of the Danish Youth Association, and a member of the World Youth Council in London, who is now visiting groups of young people in this country with the aid of the “Youth For A Free World.”

In the evening I attended the dinner given by the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, at which the annual Thomas Jefferson award was given to Justice Hugo L. Black. This is given every year to the individual who has made outstanding contributions to progress during the year. There was a galaxy of Senators, Justices and officials present.


At 9:30 this morning I went on the air with Miss Eleanor Howard, who is devoting her radio time this week to telling the people of our country what the Red Cross really does accomplish with their money. At the same time we were asked to say a word about the paper drive which is now on. Of course, we are not saving paper in this country in the way they have been forced to save it in other countries nearer the war fronts, and it will not be a great hardship for most of us to carry our parcels home without having them wrapped.

Way back in 1942, Londoners began saving one piece of paper for use when buying something which absolutely had to be wrapped. They would take the paper along with them when starting out to shop. There, however, the housewives also trundle little carts to market every morning, and a good deal can go in the bottom of their baskets unwrapped.


At 10:30 a group of American servicemen who have been prisoners of war in Germany and in the Philippines, and who have been speaking all over this country for the Red Cross, came to see me. There were 21 young men and they were the most interesting people I have talked with in a long time. When we read the horrible stories of German prison camps today, it must encourage the families of our prisoners to talk to these young men who have survived.

At noon I go to the Fashion Group lunch, and then on to New York City.

April 6, 1945

NEW YORK, Thursday – The train to New York City was on time, and we hurriedly left our bags at the apartment and went to dine with friends before going to Carnegie Hall to see the dance and music festival put on by the African Academy of Arts and Research. The language of the drums, which is the oldest language in the world, is always fascinating to me, and I must say that the rhythm is very hard for anyone to resist. It was a most enjoyable evening, featuring some of the stars best known in this country in night clubs as well as on the stage.

The idea of the festival was interesting. It covered a wide range, from Africa to South America and the Caribbean, and finally ended in our own United States. There will be another performance on the night of April 6, and I hope a great many people will enjoy it as much as I did.

The African Academy of Arts and Research has issued a commemorative booklet which was on sale last evening. It is dedicated “to Felix Sylvestre Eboue and Wendell Lewis Willkie, two great men devoted to the same ideals of one world of freedom and unity.” There are many interesting articles written by well-known people, and I am sure that anyone interested in a better understanding among the races of the world will find this issue particularly rewarding.


We stopped at the railroad station on the way home and I put one of our grandsons on the train on his way back to school.

It is a rainy day, so it is fortunate for me that my appointments are entirely here at the apartment. They will fill my day until evening, when Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kellogg call for Miss Thompson and me to go to the Henry Street Settlement.

The weather news this morning, telling of fruit trees being destroyed in some parts of the country by a sudden drop in temperature, and of a heavy snowstorm blanketing and blocking roads in other parts of the country, should not surprise us – but it does! We are eternally lulled to sleep by our innermost desire. When winter is apparently at an end we long for spring, and the first signs of the fickle lady’s appearance make us certain that she is with us permanently! Alas, like most fair ladies, she usually has to be wooed many times before she comes to stay.


There are some things we can do nothing about, like the weather; yet whatever happens, we have to make the best of it and find a way to compensate for the vagaries of nature. Perhaps this is one of the lessons we could bear in mind as we face the problems of the future. One way or another, we must find a means of solving them. If we can’t have good weather and no frosts, then we must take the bad weather. But we must still manage to bring some kind of a crop to fruition or we, the people, will suffer.

April 7, 1945

NEW YORK, Friday – All day yesterday I seemed to be moving from one individual’s interest to another! In the course of the day I saw a young man whose greatest interest is the development of education in Africa among the Negro people. Then I touched upon Australia and Italy, and it seemed almost strange when I found myself talking with someone whose chief interest is right here at home in our own country!


A little after 6, Miss Helen Hall of the Henry Street Settlement called for Miss Thompson and me, and it seemed very familiar getting out and going into the house that will always bring Miss Lillian Wald’s presence vividly before me. Miss Wald is one of the people whose spirit has lived on. It lives in that busy house used by so many people, and yet at the core of all the activities there is a sense of purpose and calm – a peace which comes, I think, from people all of whom are doing a job because they care about it.

We had an informal supper at little tables, and I was much interested listening to a young naval officer who had lived in France before the war. He had been lent to the Army and had spent some time in France of late. Eyewitnesses can always make you see a country, particularly where you have known it in the past.

It was encouraging to hear him say that, in spite of the destruction, the people set right to it, the minute the country was in their hands again, to rebuild and salvage all they could from the ruins. I saw them doing this once before, and it seems to me incredibly courageous to be doing it again.


I was thrilled by the way in which the people living on the Lower East Side of New York City are studying the international situation. Mrs. Esther Taber Fox, who is conducting forums which are very well attended, has filled her room with the most interesting maps where you can actually see what is happening all over the world, and where explanations for the Bretton Woods agreements and Dumbarton Oaks proposals are set out before you.

I wish this program inaugurated at the Henry Street Settlement could be carried on in every community, rural and urban, throughout the nation. We would have individual citizens then carrying their full share of responsibility for their representatives at the San Francisco conference and afterwards.


A few days ago there came to me an appeal for simultaneous prayer for the cessation of hostilities and peace in the world. I think a plea has already been issued that the Sunday before the San Francisco meeting shall be devoted by churches of all faiths to prayer for the success of this meeting. There is nothing, however, to prevent us, each and every Sunday as we go to the churches of the nation, and each day as we go about our business, from joining with all the other people who make up this nation in prayers for wisdom and goodwill to create peace in the world.

April 9, 1945

HYDE PARK, New York, Sunday – On Friday I had a few personal appointments in New York City, and then Miss Thompson and I caught the 4:40 train for Poughkeepsie. As we entered the house, I began to feel the world of busy people and the war drop far away. The house was quiet and empty. We went out on the porch which opens out of my sitting room on the second floor and looked at the rolling fields and the trees, with their feathery red and green spring attire. To the south of us, the river lay quietly shimmering in the sunset. It was cool and the birds were quiet, and somehow it was hard to believe that somewhere far away our ships and planes were shooting down the Japanese, and our soldiers and more planes were chasing the Germans.

After a short walk and a visit with my sister-in-law, Mrs. J. R. Roosevelt, we had our supper and sat before the fire for a while. Then I went to work at my desk – much against my will, for I felt as though I had lost all connection with my usual existence.


Until late Saturday afternoon, I went through china cupboards that had been thoroughly cleaned out and properly sorted over since my mother-in-law’s death. Then we unpacked five barrels of china and glass that had been in the cellar awaiting a convenient time. The convenient time never seemed to come, and my husband has been suggesting that I had better make some time. Many of the things which we packed away at the time of his mother’s death we will not want to use, but we hope our children will. I will have to devote a part of the day and evening to unpacking more barrels, so this is quite the most domestic two days I have spent in a long while. But I must say it gives one a sense of solid achievement.

Over the radio comes the news of the battle raging in the Pacific. There are so many people close to us who might be in it, that one cannot help worrying about other mothers and wives as well as one’s own family.


From Tucson, Arizona, I have been sent a sample “letter from home” which the local laundry and dry cleaners are sending their servicemen from that area. On the back of the page are pictures. On the front they print the letter, which touches on everything that has been happening at home – legislation, baseball and news about individuals. It seems to me one of the best letters of its kind that I have seen, because of the small amount of paper used and the combination of pictures and condensed material.

The state of Connecticut also has an executive secretary of its State Salvage Committee who has sent out some very clever material on the importance of tin salvage. They enclose a photograph of a “syrette” made out of salvaged tin and used in emergency kits. They claim it has saved many lives, so for this and other reasons be sure to save your tin.

April 10, 1945

NEW YORK, Monday – We left Hyde Park early this morning, and I am sure that anyone looking at us carefully would have been able to remark that we had been doing some kind of work to which we were not accustomed! We creaked a little in the joints, which only goes to prove that we should do physical work more often!

I want to tell you a little today about the United Negro College Fund campaign which starts on the 18th of this month. For many years these colleges raised their funds separately and it was a hard task for the various college presidents. It meant that they gave more time than should be given to raising of funds and less to the administration of their particular institution.

This year the goal is $1,550,000. This covers the needs of at least 27 colleges, which was the number of members last year. The Negroes form a tenth of our population and are our biggest minority, and these colleges train teachers, doctors, ministers and the people who are going to be leaders in this minority group. These colleges will have to accept their share in helping to adjust the returned Negro servicemen to peacetime occupations, since out of the million Negro servicemen many thousands are college graduates planning to continue their work.


The president of the fund is Dr. F. T. Patterson of Tuskegee Institute, and the chairman is Thomas Morgan of the Sperry Corporation. Walter Hoving, president of Lord and Taylor, is chairman of the executive committee, John D. Rockefeller Jr. is chairman of the advisory committee and the treasurer is Winthrop Aldrich, president of the Chase National Bank. This looks like a sound setup; but the money has to come from you and me, and unless we recognize our individual responsibility and shoulder it the board cannot raise the money needed. It is going to be badly needed – in fact, proof of the need has already been shown because of the servicemen already returning in our bigger cities.


The OWI has put out a pamphlet which, unlike many things that come to my desk today, I find really very practical. It is entitled “Planned Spending and Saving.” It covers for us the essentials of the problem and then actually finds some solutions. It makes some suggestions as to how we can economize. It stresses the need for budgeting. One of the points it brings out is, I think, good for us all to remember: “Keep your own prices down. Don’t take advantage of war conditions to ask more for your labor, your services or the goods you sell.”

Many of us are anxious to see prices kept down. At the same time, if we can get a little more, we see no reason why our standards should be higher than our neighbor’s; and if he is accepting an increased compensation, why should not we do the same. Yet in the long run, if we succumb to temptation we will be the sufferers.

April 11, 1945

KEENE, New Hampshire, Tuesday – Yesterday I went to the Cosmopolitan Club in New York to meet with a distinguished group of women who had been invited by the foreign division of the International Board of the YWCA to hear Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, Resident Commissioner of the Philippines. He is just back from Manila, and at the same time is just reunited with his family after a three-year separation.

Gen. Romulo made a most moving speech – perhaps one of the most interesting speeches on race relations that I have ever heard. He cited three American policies which led to the loyalty of the Filipinos. First and foremost was the recognition by the United States of the fact that every human being is a free soul and worthy of respect. Second, the recognition of the longing of all people to be free. Third, we offered the Filipinos education as a means to final emancipation.

Gen. Romulo told of our pioneer teachers and how beloved they were. On this Bataan Day, April 9, he told of the fight which he had seen on the first Bataan Day. As a result of our policies, he pointed out, 75,000 Filipino soldiers fought side by side with 9,000 American soldiers, and 18,000,000 Filipino civilians were able to withstand Japanese propaganda and remain loyal to the United States and to their own freedom.

Several times, as he spoke, I looked across the table and saw the mistiness in the eyes of the women opposite, and I knew they could see the same in mine.


Gen. Romulo talked to us of his wife, who, in the course of their separation, had constantly to flee from the Japanese, taking her three boys along with her. In that period, she had to wear 50 different disguises and to move to 157 different homes. The Japanese searched continually, but never found her. She kept on the move from one house to another and from one mountain to another. Then the older boys became guerrilla fighters. The little boy, though only six years old, had grown so accustomed to fugitive life that when he finally reached Washington and went to sleep in a bed with sheets, he looked up at his father and said: “Isn’t it wonderful, daddy? I shall wake up here tomorrow morning!”

There would be no more alarming calls in the night, no more hurried dressing and running away. Peace and security for a six-year-old at last.

The general told us of a blond boy from Texas, fighting in the same foxhole with a dark-haired, brown-skinned Filipino. Both were killed by the same Japanese bomb, and their life blood mingled together as it ebbed away.

I went from there with a curious sense of having heard a sermon and seen a very extraordinary human being.


Earlier in the day I saw Dr. Max Geller, who last year wrote a number of articles on the subject of race relations. He brought me some of his writings, and he certainly has done an interesting piece of research into conditions in New York City. He seems to know a great deal about many things which are closed books to most of us even though we live in the same city.

April 12, 1945

KEENE, New Hampshire, Wednesday – At the Fortnightly Club, which I attended last Monday for the first time in 10 years, the discussion was on “How Can We Improve Race Relations?” I could do no better than try to repeat the sermon I had heard from General Romulo, but I was far less effective, I know. I hope the general will speak throughout this country many times before the nations meet in San Francisco.

I got back to our apartment in time to have a short goodbye visit with Rene LeRoy, who is soon to take his flute and his trio and travel for the USO to entertain our soldiers. Those of them who care for music have a treat in store. Miss Erika Mann also dropped in to see me, between lectures. She has been abroad as a war correspondent, and I was very much interested to hear her impressions of Germany.


After a quiet dinner we took the night train for Brattleboro, Vermont. I looked out of the train window yesterday morning expecting to find a winter landscape. Instead, forsythia and daffodils were blooming and it was almost as spring-like as in Hyde Park. We got out in time to have breakfast with John Talbot and the Rev. William Lewis, who came to meet us. The flowers on the table were mayflowers, so we each took a few sprigs and pinned them in our buttonholes and rejoiced in the delicious smell all day.

By 11 we were in Chester, Vermont, where I was to speak at the high school. The graduating class, having earned and collected the money for a trip to New York City or Washington, had given this up and decided instead to do something useful with the money which would carry out the motto of the class – “To Work Towards a Just and Durable Peace.” They made me an honorary member of the class, presented me with the check and left it to me to suggest what they should do. At the luncheon following the ceremony they voted to accept my suggestion that they buy war bonds and, when the war is over, use the money to give some boy or girl a scholarship for study either here or abroad which would increase the understanding between nations.

I had a chance to talk to all of the young people at luncheon, which curiously enough was an exact duplicate of our inauguration luncheon at the White House, except for the fact that we had not had ice cream. I signed their programs and gave each of them a rose from a large bouquet which had been given me.


Driving from Chester to Keene was a very lovely trip. I think we appreciate the countryside much more because we see so much less of it these days, when we do little or no motoring, and I rejoiced in every beautiful old house and picturesque view.

April 17, 1945

WASHINGTON, Monday – When you have lived for a long time in close contact with the loss and grief which today pervades the world, any personal sorrow seems to be lost in the general sadness of humanity. For a long time, all hearts have been heavy for every serviceman sacrificed in the war. There is only one way in which those of us who live can repay the dead who have given their utmost for the cause of liberty and justice. They died in the hope that, thru their sacrifice, an enduring peace would be built and a more just world would emerge for humanity.

While my husband was in Albany and for some years after coming to Washington, his chief interest was in seeing that the average human being was given a fairer chance for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That was what made him always interested in the problems of minority groups and of any group which was at a disadvantage.

As the war clouds gathered and the inevitable involvement of this country became more evident, his objective was always to deal with the problems of the war, political and military, so that eventually an organization might be built to prevent future wars.


Any man in public life is bound, in the course of years, to create certain enemies. But when he is gone, his main objectives stand out clearly and one may hope that a spirit of unity may arouse the people and their leaders to a complete understanding of his objectives and a determination to achieve those objectives themselves.

Abraham Lincoln was taken from us before he had achieved unity within the nation, and his people failed him. This divided us as a nation for many years.

Woodrow Wilson was also stricken and, in that instance, the peoples of the world failed to carry out his vision.

Perhaps, in his wisdom, the Almighty is trying to show us that a leader may chart the way, may point out the road to lasting peace, but that many leaders and many peoples must do the building. It cannot be the work of one man, nor can the responsibility be laid upon his shoulders, and so, when the time comes for peoples to assume the burden more fully, he is given rest.

God grant that we may have the wisdom and courage to build a peaceful world with justice and opportunity for all peoples the world over.


And now I want to say one personal word of gratitude to the many people who have sent messages of affection and condolence during these last days. My children and I are deeply grateful. I want to say too that the people who waited in the stations and along the railroad to pay their last respects have my deep appreciation.

“And now there abideth these three – faith, hope, charity, but the greatest of these is charity.”