My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Thursday—Decoration Day Is here again. Parades, soldiers, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, and just plain ordinary citizens and children will go to cemeteries all over this country and place their offerings of remembrance on the soldiers' graves. In the faraway places where our servicemen were buried during both World Wars, commemorative exercises will be held and people in those foreign lands will bring flowers and attend those ceremonies.

I wish very much that we could stop looking upon this day purely as one in which our duty is accomplished when we remember and are grateful for the sacrifices of those who died in past wars. I wish this could be turned into a day when we think realistically about the cost of modern war and the danger of annihilation which another war may bring to our civilization.

I have the greatest respect for the ladies of the DAR, who, in their recent convention, passed such patriotic resolutions demanding that everything be done for the defense of our land. They were stirred by the head of the American Legion, who warned them that we must weed out the secret agents of Communism and Nazism who have infiltrated into our country with visitors' visas and then lost themselves in wide-open spaces. I quite agree that we should get rid of such people, but I have a feeling that the FBI is up to the job. But the FBI and the patriotic ladies' resolutions will not prevent the removal from the earth of what we call civilization if we have an atomic war.

This is what I would like to have people consider on this Decoration Day, and I would like them to dedicate themselves to the study of how to prevent war. We have proved on several occasions that it is not prevented by armaments alone. It is true that weakness courts aggression, but at the present time the people of the United States are in a strange position. They are stronger than any other nation in the world, and yet they are afraid of attack as they have never been before.

The perusal of any of our newspapers will show that this fear exists even when it is not plainly expressed. The only reason for this is that we have no real plan on which we are concentrating which will improve goodwill among the governments of the world. None of the peoples want to go to war, but all of the governments are suspicious of each other. And whenever a statesman makes a public pronouncement, he seems to create in the press, and probably in the hearts of other statesmen, tremors of fear and visions of coalitions against this or that nation.

Would it help if, on this Decoration Day, as we think of the graves of our dead everywhere in the world, we remember that all of them died to bring to their people at home security and peace and greater well-being? Could we pledge ourselves, as a tribute to them, to try to find new ways of meeting the problems of peace an atomic age? I am sure peace in the world has to begin with peace in the heart of each individual. Could we really today begin a new era—love God and love our fellow man?

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 31 May 1947