MAY 30, 1945
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Tomorrow will be Memorial Day, and all over this country people will be going to our cemeteries and placing flags and wreaths on the graves of the men who died for their country in this and other wars in our past history. The graves of others, too, will not be neglected.
But it is not of those who have died that I am primarily thinking today. During the past weeks I have been able to go to my husband's grave in the quiet and beautiful hedge-enclosed garden. Delegations from many foreign nations have come to pay their respects, and they have gone away apparently with a renewed strength of spirit. I believe this always comes when we think of the courageous people who bear their burdens in life without fear and, like Lincoln, never troubled about their detractors but did the best they knew how from day to day, trusting in the strength of a greater power than their own.
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Each time that I talk to people who seem to leave here with a little more courage than they came, I cannot help thinking of the many women who have written me during the days when I lived in the White House, begging to be allowed to bring home from overseas the fathers, husbands or brothers who lie buried far away. Always I had to answer that when the war was over the question would be sympathetically considered by the various departments, but that for the present people must lie where they fall.
I talked about it with my husband, who always said: "If I die at sea, I want to be buried at sea just like any sailor;" and I am sure that had he died on foreign soil he would have wanted to be buried in the place where he died, much as he loved his own land and the little patch of ground which was particularly his.
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One wonders, nevertheless, when there is no tangible grave to be visited, how these people can get comfort not only on Memorial Day, but on all the other days of the year. They would still get it, of course, from the man who gave them courage and care and love on earth, if they could feel his spirit. Everyone who leaves this world must want to give those left behind that lift of the spirit which he left in his home in the morning and brought back when he returned.
Perhaps if the women who have no grave to visit could go to some place that together they had known and loved in the past, and think not of the body of a man but of his mind and soul and heart, they might then be able to feel some of that sense of nearness which is, I think, at the root of the craving people have to know and visit the spot where someone they have loved and depended upon is laid to rest. Perhaps if, day by day, they try to carry out some wish or some interest which was close to the man's heart, they may find themselves sharing more intimately in the actual things which moved him. This will give them comfort and courage to face the future with a "head that is bloody but unbowed."