Friday, October 12, 2007

October 11, 1884:

Eleanor Roosevelt's Birthday

The "My Day" column by Mrs. Roosevelt, written less than two weeks after losing her husband:

WASHINGTON, APRIL 21, 1945 - There is always a certain emotional strain about the last time for anything. When you have lived twelve years in a house, even though you have always known that it belonged to the nation, you grow fond of the house itself, and fonder still of all the people connected with your life in that house.

Yesterday the President and Mrs. Truman and Miss Truman lunched here with us and, from then on, I began to do "last things." At four o'clock, I greeted the members of my press conference for the last time. I have always looked out at the Washington Monument from my bedroom window the last thing at night, and the little red light at the top of it has twinkled at me in friendly fashion. That simple shaft, so tall and straight, has often made me feel during this war that, if Washington could be steadfast through Valley Forge, we could be steadfast today in spite of anxiety and sorrow.

Now, I have spent my last night in the White House. I have had my last breakfast on the sun porch. And all today, I shall be saying good-bye to different people who have been loyal and kind and have given all that they could for the success of my husband's Administration or for the comfort and welfare of us all as a family. Yet I cannot feel that it is goodbye for, when you are fond of people, you are sure to meet again.

I wonder if others have been thinking, as I have, of the rather remarkable way in which our people and our government have passed through this major period of change. Ordinarily, when there is a change of administration, there is a period between election and inauguration during which the outgoing president and his family prepare for their departure, while the incoming President and his family prepare to assume their new responsibilities.

Never before has a sudden change of presidents come about during a war. Yet, from the time that Mr. Truman, followed closely by Secretary of State Stettinius, walked into my sitting room and I told them of my husband's death, everything has moved in orderly fashion. There was consternation and grief but, at the same time, courage and confidence in the ability of this country and its people to back new leaders and to carry through the objectives to which the people have pledged themselves.

That this attitude established itself so quickly is a tribute to President Truman, to the members of the Cabinet, and to the Congress. But above all, it is a tribute to the people as a whole and it reaffirms our confidence in the future.

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