My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I did not mention yesterday that the Prime Minister of Australia, Mrs. Curtin, President-elect and Senora de Picado and I had lunch with the President at my husband's vacation residence in the South. I was extremely glad to have the opportunity to meet the man who will be at the head of the Costa Rican government in the near future, and I am sorry that his stay in this country will be so short.

I look forward, however, to the chance to talk with him further when he and his charming wife come to tea tomorrow. Senora de Picado speaks only Spanish but I was glad to find that I could understand her when she said a few words to me! I doubt if I shall ever have courage enough to launch forth in Spanish myself. It needs the assurance of youth, I think, to become fluent or even to speak hesitatingly in a new language.

The President-elect of Costa Rica speaks Spanish, Polish (his mother was Polish), French and English, so there are very few parts of the world in which he would have to be silent.

Ever since the story was published telling of something which the President is supposed to have done for a particular soldier, the White House has been deluged with appeals—over the telephone, by telegraph and by mail, so I think it is only fair to many people all over the country to tell them the real procedure in any case that comes to the attention of the White House.

Obviously, neither the President nor I can direct that anything is to be done or not done. That must remain in the hands of the department heads and the people under them in whose jurisdiction the particular case may fall. Whenever a letter comes to either of us, we send it over to someone who we think can not only investigate the case, but who is able to find out whether the department can do anything about it.

There are many cases which in themselves are entitled to consideration, but because of military necessity, or special difficulties or needs, cannot be considered. Sometimes it may be possible to do something for one person, and the case of another person whose cause is just as good may not be handled because of outside considerations which are greater than those of any individuals involved.

In war time, general considerations always come first because it is the whole situation that is most important and not the individual. But the individual is helped whenever possible. Anyone who asks either the President or myself for help on any subject must realize that the appeal has to go through the regular channels and that the results desired may or may not be achieved. The decision will rest with responsible people in charge of that particular activity and not with us.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL