SEPTEMBER 28, 1938
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—It is curious how being back at the seat of government intensifies a feeling of anxiety over general conditions. When I went in to speak to the President on my arrival yesterday, I immediately realized the constant communication he had to have with the European countries, and the parts of this country at present suffering from the results of the hurricane. Up to a late hour last night, messages were coming in.
We all listened today to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's message to the British people. His voice came over so clearly that, through the tones of it, I could feel the atmosphere of anxiety and desperate calm surrounding him. There is something very stirring in an appeal made to a nation when it is done as calmly and with as little conscious dramatic effort as this.
All day I have been wondering how I would stand up under the strain which is facing men and women everywhere in Europe. Comparatively speaking, we have had little experience with this kind of strain, and it makes one uncertain of one's own strength and ability to suffer for the things one holds dear. For all we know, many things may lie before us that never touched us in the past and it is perhaps time for us all to search our own souls and decide just where we stand as regards the comparative values of material and spiritual things in life.
At the World Youth Congress, a young Czechoslovakian asked me the following question through an interpreter: "Granted, Mrs. Roosevelt, that there are aggressor nations in the world, at what point does a small, weak nation cease to concede and take a stand?" That is a question which may face us all in different ways, not perhaps in the way it faced that boy, who today is probably mobilized, but we may have to answer it in other ways during the coming years.
The weather is beautiful here and tempts me to go out of doors, but as always happen when I first return, there is plenty to keep me in the house. I have looked over chairs which need to be recovered, held my first press conference for the fall, received Sabu, the elephant boy, and found him a most interesting and attractive youngster. He brought me a model of an elephant with a boy on his back, made by an Indian craftsman, and he talked of his future ambitions and his return to school in England. Someday he hopes to establish schools in India for boys like himself who are left alone and destitute at an early age.
A number of people lunched with me, all had some special thing they wished to talk about. I have signed much mail and am about to go to a tea given by the Democratic Women's National Council.