JANUARY 12, 1946
LONDON, Friday—The great moment of the actual opening of the first session of the General Assembly came yesterday afternoon. Mr. Stettinius asked me to drive to Westminster with him.
As we went out together, he said to me, "How your husband planned for this day." Once we were in the hall I felt my husband's spirit must be with us.
I would like to pay tribute here to the men and women behind the scenes of all the delegations who do so much work and get so little public acknowledgment. Their satisfaction in the knowledge that they are contributing to the greatest hope that men have today for future happiness must be their reward.
The hall, was already crowded when we arrived and I found myself sitting next to a Russian delegate, Mr. Kuznetzov.
In this land of shortages great effort has been made to prepare a dignified and beautiful background, so at this first meeting when Dr. Eduardo Zuleta Angel of Colombia, President of the Preparatory Commission, arose to open it, he stood in front of a blue and gold background on which a symbolic world map appeared with two great olive branches crossed below it.
I had a few minutes to look around before the meeting began. One's eye was caught by the picturesque group of Arab representatives. Later they passed close beside me as I stood waiting for our car and I was struck by the fine features and dignified bearing of this whole delegation.
On the whole, there were very few women on the delegations, at least so it seemed to me yesterday. In talking to a French assistant delegate at Mr. Bevin's reception after the meeting she told me she felt sure there were more women still to come. So far no complete list of delegates has been published. But I would like to feel that women will be represented in the future in greater numbers in the Assembly, particularly from the countries where they participated so fully in fighting the war, as well as enduring its hardships as civilians. Casting our ballots for president of this first session of the Assembly, was to me a most interesting ceremony. As each delegation sent up a member with its vote, I had an opportunity to see the different representatives, many of them the heads of their delegations.
Everyone of these delegates will play a part on the committees to which they will be assigned. There I think personalities will count. It will not matter whether you come from a big or little nation, if you have a contribution to make to the questions that are brought before your committee. It will be your own ability to think clearly and speak tactfully, and persuasively that will enable each one to render valuable service.
I felt in the delegates a seriousness which I have never before found at this kind of a large gathering. In meetings and conversation as a rule there is excitement and rivalry but here, even on the first day, when this feeling between candidates might well have been evident, there neither was great exhilaration over the election of Spaak of Belgium, who won by a small margin over Lie of Norway, nor great disappointment at Lie's defeat. There was a feeling that whoever was elected was going to do a very big job and that he would require the backing and help of every nation and there must be no hard feelings left over by defeat.
One of the impressive things was the crowd which gathered outside in the drizzling rain, waiting to see the delegates go into Westminster Hall and were still there to see them come out at the end of the meeting. I overheard one woman say, "It's a big undertaking, they must succeed, the future of the world depends on it." And that was, I think, the thought in the mind of every delegate as he left Westminster Hall and wended his way homeward.