My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—First of all today I want to thank the many, many people who sent me cards for my birthday and whom I am unable to thank personally. I have tried as far as I could to send personal notes, but here and there an address has been lost or someone failed to put their address on the card. So I know there will be people who do not know how much I appreciate their thought of me at this time.

I received today a charming little Scotty pin done in hand-carved horn, with a very nice note wishing me many happy returns of the day. It merely was signed: "An anonymous friend." It leaves me no way to express my thanks except here in my column.

About a week ago I managed to get out for not more than a few minutes and order a few Christmas presents. Yesterday, however, after our U.N. delegation meeting and attending to my mail in the office as well as seeing one or two people, I actually spent an hour Christmas shopping. When you want anything inscribed or marked in any way you have to start early to order your gifts.

This morning in my mail I found a letter from one of our teachers. She said she felt that most teachers in this country needed an opportunity to broaden their viewpoint. It would be of tremendous value, she wrote, if they could travel in large groups to different parts of the world. But, failing that, she said that if they could receive into their homes in this country foreigners who were here as teachers or in other capacities for an extended period, that that would give them a familiarity with people of other lands and a knowledge of their habits and customs.

This has been started, of course, through an exchange-of-teachers program, which has been sponsored by the State Department. But I realize that my correspondent's idea would reach a far greater number of teachers than the present program could possibly reach.

Later on the same day I found an appeal from the Common Council for American Unity, asking that I stress the fact that letters are a very important medium for broadening our understanding.

It is probably easier for first and second generation Americans to keep up with their relatives in other lands, but there is no reason why all Americans should not have some contact by letter. It may lead to the interchange of books and parcels and would help to overcome the strangeness of a great many people in other countries who are coming to the United States from IRO camps in Europe or from other countries where the living conditions have become so unbearable. This exchange of letters can smooth the way and give people the feeling when they come here that they can already have friends to whom they can turn.

My last few days in Committee # 3 in the General Assembly have taught me that there is a complete lack of understanding between some of the Far Eastern members of that committee and ourselves. They do not believe what we say. Even so, they feel very much assured of how the United States people feel on certain subjects, although they claim the people of the West can have no real understanding of the people of the East. It seems to me a constant interchange of letters would help to dispel this point of view and might in time dispel suspicions. So, write as a friend to people in the Asiatic areas of the world.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL