My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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LONDON, Monday—I keep wishing that my husband could have lived to accept the invitation which King George had extended to him to visit this country. It would have been a great satisfaction to him. He would have enjoyed all the pageantry and old customs, for he had a sense of history and would have known their meaning.

He always spoke with respect of the traits which he admired in the British people—though he sometimes poked gentle fun at some of their customs, such as drinking tea as soon as you wake up in the morning, again in mid-morning and again in the afternoon! He enjoyed their more leisurely way of life, though he insisted that, as an American, he must live up to the American standard of a strenuous life.

The British love of the sea struck a sympathetic chord in him because of his own love of the sea and of all naval history. I have always been sure that this was one of the bonds between him and Mr. Churchill, although there were many others which made their meetings pleasant and kept them from being over devoted to business.

* * *

The statue of my husband in Grosvenor Square will be a constant reminder of the fact that the British and the Americans fought their way together through the dark days of the war. But I hope it will also recall to those who visit the square that my husband hoped our cooperation would continue in peacetime and would help to make the machinery of the United Nations work.

He knew full well that simply creating the machinery would not bring us peace, but he also knew that, without such a machine, nations could not work together to create an atmosphere in which better international understanding would grow. He laid the foundation for this machinery though he did not live to see the first meeting of nations at which the Charter was written.

This statue standing in Grosvenor Square—which during the war was known as Eisenhower Platz—will serve over and over again as a reminder of the concentrated work and close cooperation which brought us to victory in the war and which must continue if we are to win the battle for peace.

* * *

When I agreed to come here for the unveiling, I hoped that by my presence I could show how deeply I appreciate the goodwill of the people of Great Britain toward my husband. Since my arrival, however, I have sensed a depth of feeling far beyond what I had imagined and I know now that I can never adequately express my gratitude.

Among the many letters that have come to me, there is one from which I want to quote, since it expresses so well what is sometimes haltingly expressed in the others:

"Dear Lady: I would like to write to welcome you to our country and to tell you as a private individual of no consequence of the admiration and affection in which I held your husband. These feelings I know were common throughout this land, and when news of his death came, there was a sense of genuine grief which could hardly have been exceeded in the case of a dear member of one's family.

"There have always been great men—statesmen, orators, soldiers and the rest—but in my own life of close on 70 years, I can think of no public character with such human appeal as Franklin Roosevelt. And if one is asked, I should say primarily because there was something in his voice, when we heard it over the wireless, that was lovable... I never thought of him as a great orator in that he was superior in the use of words and phrases for their own enjoyment, but he had a direct way of getting across a forceful and telling speech which allowed the man himself always to shine through, so that those who heard him believed him and trusted him...

"Franklin Roosevelt was no 'tinkling cymbal'. One felt that he loved, and because he loved, he could not hate; because he gave, he could not grasp; because he stood, he could not flinch; because he trusted, he could not deceive. And because he lived, he cannot die.

"I believe that, as the years go on, your great husband's memory will become a light that will help to guide America and mankind."

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL