My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—I often wonder how many of the children who set off firecrackers on the Fourth of July, really think about the significance of this day to our country.

In some of the letters which I found in old boxes not long ago, my father and his older brother, Theodore, told of this day when they were small boys at Oyster Bay. Both of them were interested in history, and had a father who brought them up with considerable strictness and attempted to educate them well. Yet, the Fourth of July to them, was largely important because they must get up earlier in the morning than any other small boys in the neighborhood and be the first to rend the air with "horrid noises." Much later when a larger Roosevelt clan had gathered at Oyster Bay, my own brother tells the tale of Fourth of July activities when all the young Roosevelts of the neighborhood stole steathily from their beds and visited as many houses as they possibly could to awaken the people out of their early morning slumbers, and slip away without being caught.

Very little of the real significance or real patriotism of the day gets across, I am afraid, in most of our youngsters' celebrations. Noise and excitement are after all, the things that they really think about. Freedom has become something which they take as a matter of course. Their parents may grumble now and then that freedom is not all that it once was, but the youthful members of the community who celebrate it the loudest are seldom troubled by their parents' interpretation of the word. I sometimes wish that we could bring a little more thoughtfulness into this holiday and draw the distinction between freedom and license which so often needs to be drawn.

I am always glad when a holiday falls on a Sunday so that Monday must also be included. Of course, I know there are countries which have acquired so many holidays there occasionally seems to be difficulty in finding days on which one can work, but with us that is not the case. And, to many people a long weekend means a chance to get out into the country, to swim or hike or play tennis and golf. Two days instead of one makes such a difference in what you can do. If by chance, you have a place of your own, you can putter around in your garden, and do some minor repairs which you have been waiting for a long time to do. Altogether, the Fourth of July on a Sunday is welcome news, and since my husband and I will be all alone, with us it will be a very quiet day. In the late afternoon over at the cottage there will gather I hope, the representatives of the newspaper fraternity for a swim and a picnic. We will hope that the mosquitos will recognize the fact that this is a holiday and let us enjoy our out-of-door activities without bringing too many of their kind to visit us!

E.R.
TMsd 4 July 1937, AERP, FDRL