My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Thursday—When the UNO committee which had been appointed to study permanent headquarters sites in this country first submitted their report to the Assembly, I was appalled by the amount of acreage which was suggested as necessary. A number of the other members of the U.S. delegation were equally troubled, because they realized that great expense for the establishment of proper facilities would make the participation of the smaller nations extremely difficult.

I was very happy when it was decided that detailed studies of the suggested site should be made before any decision was reached and that a report should be rendered to the next Assembly meeting in September as to what could be done with much less acreage. If the organization is to be established in the expensive area chosen, certain things will not be necessary, since the headquarters will be so near New York City. All this should be taken into consideration.

However, when all of this is considered, I am somewhat shocked at the protests that arose here over the site. These protests were not concerned over the harm that might be done to the organization if it started on a scale that might make it difficult for all nations to participate. They were made because a sacrifice was required on the part of individuals in the area.

If the choice had fallen on an area in which our own land was concerned, I know that, though we have a deep sentimental attachment as well as a considerable financial investment in the land, I should have felt that no personal consideration could weigh against the possibility of helping to establish the United Nations Organization. In the interests of the peoples of the world, this organization may save our country and others from the kind of human misery which another war must inevitably bring to all those engaged in it, and for that end no sacrifice is too great.

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Somehow I do not think that this nation as a whole has really taken in what the UNO is attempting to do. The war in Europe brought destruction so great that it will take years to rebuild the material things which have been destroyed. How long it will take to restore spiritual and mental balance in human beings who have undergone so much misery, is a question which only time can answer.

We have been spared, I am sure, because our people have something to contribute to civilization. But it hardly makes one feel that we realize our responsibility when we protest against the UNO site on the grounds of pure self-interest, rather than on the more valid grounds that what is being proposed may be unwise and may result in defeating the real purpose of UNO.

I feel convinced that, on reflection, there are very few people who would not make the sacrifice of their homes, even where these are homesteads in which several generations have lived, if they could feel that they had really advanced the cause of peace. Somehow, our leadership failed in this case to give us that vision. The selfishness which is in all of us was appealed to first, so that we were made to appear before the world as having little interest except in our material possessions. That is a false picture of the people of these United States when they really understand what is at stake.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL