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Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day," 12/29/1941

Civilian Defense

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WASHINGTON, Sunday—A few people came in to tea on Friday afternoon. The President worked right through with the Prime Minister1 and others, so we were late for an 8:00 o'clock dinner. The President made up his mind that they had all worked enough and needed relaxation, so we had a movie, which apparently was just the right thing for the occasion. It was called "The Maltese Falcon," and as far as I could discover was a mixture between an old-fashioned melodrama and a detective story.

I had to work and wasn't quite sure that I was up to anything so exciting as this movie promised to be. I joined the party at the end of the picture and found everybody completely restored to working capacity. They had really been engrossed in the picture and were then able to turn back and to go to work for another hour or so.

I have promised Diana Hopkins2 every day that I would go swimming with her, but guests and baskets of mail have kept me from fulfilling my promise. Before breakfast Saturday morning, we went down to the pool and I discovered that she has learned to dive and do all kinds of tricks in the water, which is a great improvement in the past year.

I spent nearly two hours yesterday morning with some of the officials of the Bureau of the Budget over the estimates for the coming three months for the Office of Civilian Defense. Then a number of people, came to lunch among them Dr. John Studebaker,3 Commissioner of Education.

He has such an extended program for forums all over the country, that I wanted to discuss with him the possibilities which lie ahead in education through forum groups in matters relating to civilian defense.

It is evident that a great many people do not yet grasp the fact that civilian defense can not really be accomplished by adding auxiliary police and firemen to our existing forces, or even by appointing air raid wardens. There are some things which we can learn from England, different as our set-up must, of necessity, be.

If we should ever be unfortunate enough, for instance, to have a bombing, the protection side of civilian defense will be very quickly swamped by the need for community services of every kind. The Red Cross will provide many of these services, but it meets the first emergency and then the community service must step in to meet the continuous needs of the people.

As the months go on, we shall understand increasingly that the strength of our communities under the impact of war is only at its maximum when every individual has a part to play, and every need is met whether it is material, psychological or spiritual.


Copyright, 1941, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.