My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Friday—I attended the annual awards dinner of the Overseas Press Club of America the other night. I am afraid I am a rather hardened New York banquet-goer, and I don't usually expect to be interested, but Wednesday night was an exception.

General J. Lawton Collins started off the speeches with a very simple assertion that I feel should be repeated over and over again to every audience in the United States. He told us that we had to live up to our principles, that whether we got an armistice in Korea or not we could not accede to the demands to turn over prisoners of war against their will. These men had turned against the political powers of the countries with which they previously fought and no power on earth should force us to turn them back if they don't want to go back.

The first argument I ever had in the United Nations was on the principle of the right of people not to be returned to their countries of origin against their will. If we gave in on this point we would really sell out the principles for which the United Nations has fought in Korea.

Then Admiral Alan G. Kirk, distinguished as a naval officer and as our former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, spoke on the subject: "Can we reach the Russian people?"

He told us of the new organization he is going to head up, which will work quietly and patiently to get across to the Russian people that we do not want war. His group will endeavor to show that if war comes it will be the doing of the Soviet government, for we do not even want to interfere in their home affairs. We will let them live as they wish if they will let us live as we wish, and when I say us I mean all the free peoples of the world.

Admiral Kirk was very calm and very objective and gave one a sense of quiet purpose and the planning of a program which might obtain real results.

Then Mr. Paul G. Hoffman, former ECA Administrator and now on leave as director of the Ford Foundation, describing himself as a "temporary" politician, said he would like to give us a political speech but he would wait a little while before trying to convert me to his candidate, and would talk about the subject given him, "Politics, Power and Peace." This he did extraordinarily well. His speech was packed with information and real thought, and I enjoyed myself.

My pleasure was not over, however, because the giving of the awards was of interest to me personally, since two of my cousins, Joseph and Steward Alsop, were among those to be chosen by their colleagues for an award. Joe Alsop, whom I admire for the objective way he has written and the courage he has shown by standing up for the people and the things he believes in, was there to receive the award, and I was glad to share in what must be the real pride and satisfaction of these two brothers.

Ed Murrow got an award for his TV show, which made me happy, for he is one of my favorite people.

There were several other awards given, and Frank Noel and William G. Oatis, who are being held by the Reds, were not forgotten by their colleagues. Many of these overseas reporters must often think how many of them might have suffered the same fate as either Mr. Noel or Mr. Oatis.

Altogether, the evening was a memorable one but I didn't get home until nearly 12 o'clock and that is too late for an old lady with two hours of work ahead of her!

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL