JANUARY 1, 1947
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I am writing this on New Year's Eve and a few of us will gather together here in this little cottage at Hyde Park and on the stroke of midnight, as the new year comes in, we will follow my husband's custom of toasting first "The United States of America."
Then we shall toast the members of our family and our friends who live with us in memory, even though they can never again be actually present. Finally, we shall toast those others whom we love who may be far away now but whom we can look forward to seeing soon again.
As we toast each other and wish one another health and happiness in the new year, we still keep in the minds of the older people present--and I hope in the minds of the younger ones, no matter how young they may be--the thought that it is their country, the United States of America, to which they pledged their first allegiance for 1947.
From our citizenship in the United States springs all that makes life worth living to us as private citizens. The freedom, the justice, and the opportunity that we have stem from the development of a country in which our forebears struggled to create something new and better for mankind.
The fact that we drink this toast every year has a significance, and one that I hope every family in the country who drinks a similar toast bears in mind. That vital significance is that building a democracy is a never-ending occupation. It can be harmed by one generation of indifferent, selfish and narrow-minded individuals, for inherent in democracy is a sense of responsibility for the brotherhood of man.
When this feeling is a motivating force in any generation, democracy forges ahead. We cannot really have a democracy without a sense of the responsibility that every citizen has for the well-being of his neighbor. Democracy is never real unless it gives every man a chance, first to develop his abilities and then to function according to those abilities.
So, on this New Year's Day, as we wish each other a happy new year, let us resolve to perform our duties as citizens with the thought of all our fellow citizens constantly in mind.
This country of ours must not be a country where any group or any special individuals receive benefits to which they do not contribute. Modern society has come to recognize, I think, that every citizen is entitled to an opportunity for growth. And when that growth and development is attained all citizens, male and female, have an obligation to make returns to their society, not for their own good alone, but for the benefit of all those among whom they live.
Thinking today can no longer be so narrow that it embraces only one community or one nation. We live in close proximity to the world as a whole, and therefore our adventure in living is enhanced by the interest and the possible fellowship with the people of the world. May we, through our daily lives and our way of thinking, come to our next New Year's Eve with a sense that we have accomplished something for the world as a whole.