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Liveblogging World War II: May 30, 1944: Eleanor Roosevelt

MY DAY by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 30, 1944:

NEW YORK, Monday—It is hard to face another Memorial Day and find ourselves still at war and decorating an ever-increasing number of graves. Even these graves are but a small percentage of those we cannot decorate, in which the men of our land lie where they have fought all over the world. When we go to the Memorial Day services it is not just for those who lie in our own churchyards that we bring flowers. We transcend space and place our symbols of thought on all the oceans and in all the far-off lands.

This remembrance of our boys is not the really great significance of Memorial Day, however. If the great sacrifices of youth are to bear fruit, this day must remind us primarily of our duty to the living. It should be a day of consecration to the fulfillment of those things for which our men died.

Was this a war for freedom? Then we know we have not achieved our objectives unless all men throughout the world are free—free from economic want, from religious restraint and political oppression and from aggression by stronger people.

Was this a war for justice? Then we must see to it that justice is done throughout the world to men of all nations.

Was this a war to bring us peace in the future? Then we must see to it that we learn to cooperate with all the peoples of the world and that by our example we demonstrate the sincerity of purpose which lies back of our fight.

We cannot hope to build faith in ourselves by being suspicious of other people. We need not be "suckers," but neither need we be exploiters. As we have gone to our Memorial Day services in the past we have frequently thought primarily of the various wars in which we have engaged to gain our liberty and to preserve it. This day has served to remind us of the great names in our history—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln—but it is not enough now to think of the past. We who fight this war know that when men wish to remain free they must ever be ready to fight for their freedom.

We know also that they must be ever vigilant, not only of enemies from without but of enemies from within. Great power is always dangerous to freedom and unless we share this power with the other nations of the world, and are ever careful to make it of value to the people of the world, we may find ourselves becoming less the defenders of freedom than the custodians of power.

So this is a day for the searching of hearts and the making of strong resolutions. Since we must be strong and we must be free, let us pray for wisdom and humility to use our freedom for the good of humanity.