My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—I was in Philadelphia on Wednesday for a UNICEF meeting which, on the whole, was very successful in arousing widespread interest. First, there was a meeting of labor unions interested in the program. This lasted an hour and showed real understanding of the value of the program and the reasons why the fate of the children of the world is of interest to all of us here in the United States.

Then there was a lunch at the YWCA, at which 500 people representing a variety of organizations were present. Mrs. Pantaleoni, who is the head of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF, spoke briefly and was followed by a "Trick or Treat" program, the likes of which had so much success among American children last fall.

This "Trick or Treat" idea must be of interest to the grown-ups, too. For those readers who were not aware of the program, the children, through their schools, were given containers which they carried on their ragamuffin, trick-or-treat tours of their neighborhoods. So, instead of the inevitable Halloween deviltry, the result was that we saw well-behaved children everywhere asking for gifts to help other children throughout the world. It gave our youngsters an opportunity to give to other children and made them conscious of the needs of other children.

Since this coming generation must someday work together, this seems to me a very valuable program.

* * *

Most of the people I met in Philadelphia had just returned from the inauguration of George M. Leader, the first Democratic governor elected in Pennsylvania in a long time. Since the mayor of Philadelphia, Joseph S. Clark, is also a Democrat, and he was kind enough to introduce me, I heard quite a little about their new governor, who is only 37 years old, and their hopes for the new administration.

* * *

I noticed the other day a news release that told the story of 11 U.S. communities being designated as all-America cities because of the energetic action of their citizens in battling inefficiencies and correcting local civic situations. The National Municipal League and Look magazine are responsible for these annual citations. Ten cities and one county are honored and several other areas are given honorable mention.

The awards are given for the effort put forth by the citizens themselves, not for good government brought about by elected officials. This is an effort, I think, to spur that sense of individual responsibility and participation by each one of us, which, after all, is one of the basic things democracy stands for.

It seems to me that these awards, which were initiated as recently as 1949, have value because of their emphasis on the responsibility of the individual citizen. It is so easy to get discouraged and to feel that as a citizen you have little or no power, but if you cooperate with other citizens your power is very great, indeed.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL