My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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KEENE, N.H., Tuesday—Yesterday I went to the Cosmopolitan Club in New York to meet with a distinguished group of women who had been invited by the foreign division of the International Board of the YWCA to hear General Carlos P. Romulo, Resident Commissioner of the Philippines. He is just back from Manila, and at the same time is just reunited with his family after a three-year separation.

General Romulo made a most moving speech—perhaps one of the most interesting speeches on race relations that I have ever heard. He cited three American policies which led to the loyalty of the Filipinos. First and foremost was the recognition by the United States of the fact that every human being is a free soul and worthy of respect. Second, the recognition of the longing of all people to be free. Third, we offered the Filipinos education as a means to final emancipation.

General Romulo told of our pioneer teachers and how beloved they were. On this Bataan Day, April 9, he told of the fight which he had seen on the first Bataan Day. As a result of our policies, he pointed out, 75,000 Filipino soldiers fought side by side with 9,000 American soldiers, and 18,000,000 Filipino civilians were able to withstand Japanese propaganda and remain loyal to the United States and to their own freedom.

Several times, as he spoke, I looked across the table and saw the mistiness in the eyes of the women opposite, and I knew they could see the same in mine.

* * *

General Romulo talked to us of his wife, who, in the course of their separation, had constantly to flee from the Japanese, taking her three boys along with her. In that period, she had to wear 50 different disguises and to move to 157 different homes. The Japanese searched continually, but never found her. She kept on the move from one house to another and from one mountain to another. Then the older boys became guerrilla fighters. The little boy, though only 6 years old, had grown so accustomed to fugitive life that when he finally reached Washington and went to sleep in a bed with sheets, he looked up at his father and said:

"Isn't it wonderful, daddy? I shall wake up here tomorrow morning!"

There would be no more alarming calls in the night, no more hurried dressing and running away. Peace and security for a six-year-old at last.

The general told us of a blond boy from Texas, fighting in the same foxhole with a dark-haried, brown-skinned Filipino. Both were killed by the same Japanese bomb, and their life blood mingled together as it ebbed away.

I went from there with a curious sense of having heard a sermon and seen a very extraordinary human being.

* * *

Earlier in the day I saw Dr. Max Geller, who last year wrote a number of articles on the subject of race relations. He brought me some of his writings, and he certainly has done an interesting piece of research into conditions in New York City. He seems to know a great deal about many things which are closed books to most of us even though we live in the same city.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL