My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—Last Tuesday afternoon the Netherlands Ambassador, E. N. van Kleffens, came to my apartment to present me with a posthumous award to my husband—the highest military order given by the Netherlands Government. The Queen sent a charming note with the decoration, which she said was presented to become a part of the record of history.

Dr. van Kleffens, explaining to me some of the history of this award and its significance, said it had been instituted when Holland first became a free nation. The award had four classes. One ribbon, orange with blue stripes, denoted that it was for military service. The other ribbon, blue with orange stripes, was a recognition of civilian service. No living Dutchman has the highest decoration. Those who have the lower military orders, regardless of rank, are immediately received in the officers' mess, and anyone meeting a man wearing this order in the street must stand aside and salute. The cross bears the simple inscription, "For Courage, Loyalty and Prudence."

One scroll, signed by Queen Juliana, reads:

"Diploma of Knighthood, by royal decree of April 15, 1948, No. 36, the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, has been created Knight of The First Class (Knight Grandcross) of the 'Militaire Willems-Orde.' (Signed) Juliana, Grandmaster of the Order."

The other scroll reads:

"We, Wilhelmina, by the grace of God Queen of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Etc., Etc., Etc., have approved and understood to decree that in the registers of the Chancellery of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood there shall be registered as Knight Of The First Class (Knight Grandcross) of the 'Militaire Willems-Orde' the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States of America. Our Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of War have been charged, each insofar as he is concerned, with the execution of this decree, copy of which shall be sent to the Chancellor of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood and shall be inserted in the 'Staatscourant.' (Signed) Wilhelmina."

This is particularly pleasing, because it means that both the Queens of Holland who knew my husband have a share in presenting this, the highest military award given by their country. I know he would have been deeply appreciative because, being of Dutch ancestry and very proud of it, he always had a warm feeling for Holland and its people. He was always happy when he could do anything for the representatives of this small nation, at first because they were the representatives of Holland, and later because they were such fine people, whose courage and devotion to their country he recognized and admired even before he came to know them well and feel for them deep personal affection.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL