My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Sunday—I lay in bed on my porch this morning and watched the little yellow leaves drifting slowly down to the earth. It is warm still and the air is soft, but the leaves are covering the ground and that burning smell we all associate with autumn is prevalent around us.

There is something rather helpless about these leaves as they drift slowly past the window. I often think they are very like us, strong and proud so long as they are tightly attached to the branch on which they grew, but rudderless once they leave that center of strength. How strong we are so long as we have within us some central core of courage and conviction, and how weak and rudderless when that is shaken.

We all attended the dedication of the schools yesterday and the President reaffirmed a belief which has always been ours in this country—that no dictatorship can take hold when there is free education. The point, however, is that it must be free and it must grow with the needs of the day.

I wonder, sometimes, whether we shall insist on keeping it free. Freedom must include the permission to examine and discuss unpopular subjects and a tolerant attitude towards those who think differently from the way the majority may think at the moment. I think growth to meet the needs of the day has lagged in education during the past few years. We require open minds, for changes are needed and what they are we have not yet agreed upon.

Last evening we drove down to New York City to attend the pageant and concert presented by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in Madison Square Garden. With rare foresight this union has put the arts to work. They have recognized the need which human beings have for bread and for dignity in labor, but they have also proved the need for inspiration and idealism. The arts answer this need. Labor needs music and marching songs. Labor needs the creative satisfaction gained through the drama, the dance, and many other avenues of self-expression.

A pageant on the nation's growth and based on Walt Whitman's poetry called "I Hear America Singing," was the high point of the evening. With labor's growth, the country has grown, for, after all, labor is the country.

It is a curious distinction that we have made for ourselves between capital, as represented by people who handle money, and labor, as represented by people who do the actual work. We are all people and we must work to fulfill our destiny. If only we would all recognize this fact and work together and make money work for us all without division and as one great group of working people, what a different place our world would be.

We reached home at 1:30, tired but with a feeling of inspiration gained from the evening.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL