My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Friday—On Wednesday night in Poughkeepsie I attended a delightful dinner sponsored by the Vassar Hospital Association. The Association, which is being built up to help Vassar Hospital meet its financial obligation, is another way for the citizens of the community to show their good citizenship and their interest in the well being of the people of the area as a whole.

Much of the money from the Association's dues helps to keep the free clinics open to the public, and this benevolent gesture causes some people to wonder why these clinics should not be closed if they do not pay for themselves.

The answer is very simple. The great majority of patients are those who cannot afford to pay for adequate care. Therefore, the contributions of others in the community are necessary and really are contributions that show a sense of responsibility for the community as a whole. Under a Communist form of government, some will tell us, the necessities of life are taken care of by the government and, therefore, are free. As a matter of fact, of course, the government revenues are the earnings of the people, so they are not free anymore than they are in a capitalist democracy.

The real difference is that, in a democracy such as ours, a good citizen who is interested in his fellow man voluntarily does certain things which, under Communism, might be done for him by the government. It seems to me then that while democracy requires more from its citizens—but who are permitted to act of their own free will—they must certainly get greater satisfaction out of what they do.

The Community Chest in our area never has been substantial enough to give the hospitals large enough contributions to help to carry on the work that their endowments do not cover. Therefore, both St. Francis Hospital and Vassar Hospital find calls upon them which they must meet by actual work and by the interest engendered in individuals throughout the country.

Both hospitals recently were given substantial contributions through the trustees, from the Tower estate. The sum that Vassar Hospital received will enable it to build a nurses' home.

Incidentally, the nurses' glee club was at the dinner to sing for us, and I could not help thinking how young some of these girls looked and what a great opportunity it was for them to train for such a useful calling. Some hospitals require a college education, but Vassar Hospital accepts girls for training who have only a high school diploma. So, the training itself is really a postgraduate course.

It was extremely good news to read that Egypt and Israel are to begin direct negotiations for an armistice. I feel sure that once the Arab states actually sit down to talk over the problem of Palestine as a whole that Dr. Ralph J. Bunche's hopes for an end of the Holy Land war will be realized and that final accord can be reached between the two countries themselves.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL