FEBRUARY 1, 1946
LONDON—Personally, I am very happy to have a Norwegian hold the post of Secretary General of the United Nations Organization. Norway suffered much in the war and played a valiant part. She has always been an independent country and her people are individualists. Mr. Trygve Lie, of course, will represent many governments and will have to think of the interests of the people of the world, but the characteristics of the Norwegians are a valuable background, I think, for the kind of courageous leadership which all of us hope he will give to the UNO. He is young and energetic, and gives one the impression of being tactful.
Some time ago, Miss Freida Dalen of Norway, who is rapporteur for the Assembly committee on which I have been serving, spoke to me about the possibility of her countryman, Mr. Lie, being made Secretary General. She so evidently had respect for him and felt that his attitude toward women and their aspirations was fair and sympathetic. Now that he has been chosen, I'm sure she is pleased.
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The other morning, I went to Waterloo Station to see a few of the GI brides start off for the United States. Some of them had babies that they would have to care for on the trip. And one girl from Scotland had been taken to a spot where she could lie down because, as she said, she was not a good traveller. But I surmised she was already beginning to be somewhat homesick.
What courage these young things have, confronting life in a strange land! It is an adventure and a rather lonely one. I hope they find friends when they reach our hospitable shores.
But we are not always as thoughtful as we might be. One woman sent me a clipping from a newspaper in which it was reported that many girls in the United States looked upon these brides as interlopers who had taken from them the men they might have married. As a matter of fact, when you think what lonely lives our men have led during the years of war, we should be grateful that they found wives to give them devotion during their periods of leave. We can hope that the necessary adjustments can be made and that happy homes will come into being.
The girls were bound for every part of the United States. Some of them want to find jobs. Others already have their jobs in the form of very active youngsters. I wished them all good luck and came away with an inevitable sigh for the heartaches that must accompany any break such as these girls are making with their past.
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To my joy recently, when I went to the closing of the American Red Cross center at Rainbow Corner, a young man came up to me and said, "You probably have forgotten me, Mrs. Roosevelt, but I am the young man who lay so long in that bed at the hospital in Oxford and whom your English friends insisted you must stop to see." I remembered at once my visit with him in the hospital when I was here in 1942.
He had been with the American flyers who joined the British in the days of the Battle of Britain, very early in the war. When I had seen him before, there was very little hope that he would ever walk again. But youth is a wonderful asset, and here he is, not only able to walk but planning to go back to America soon and earn a living.
I cannot close this column without a word about Harry Hopkins, who was one of my husband's closest friends. When I saw him just before I left home, he was in the hospital. I knew that he had been very ill and might never again be very well. I hoped, however, that there might be some years ahead of him in which he could do some of the work that he still wanted to do, and in which he could enjoy the peace and happiness with his wife and daughter which the war years had not allowed him to enjoy. For many years, I doubt whether he had ever felt really well, and yet he never refused to undertake a mission, no matter how difficult.
He was a controversial figure. People either liked him very much or they disliked him heartily. Some thought him very able, and felt that he had contributed a great deal, not only during the war but in the positions he held before the war. Others disagreed violently. This was inevitable in the role that he played.
I know, however, that he was a completely loyal friend and adviser, telling the truth as he saw it and carrying out his missions for the benefit of his country with very little regard for his health or his own interests. His wife and children can take great pride in his war service, and also in the work he did in the early years of the depression. Thousands and thousands of people in the United States owe to him the chance they had to live again, not on relief, but with the self-respect that comes from earning one's living. His children will always have as a heritage the record of his service against which to measure their own future accomplishments.