The Sisters of Sinsinawa enjoyed a warm, ongoing relationship with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt over the years. One can see evidence of this in our Archives, through various letters, photographs, and even a signed etching of the 32nd President presented to the College in 1935. There is perhaps no aspect of this association remembered more fondly than that of Eleanor’s visit to Rosary College in 1936.
Mrs. Roosevelt joined a speaking tour of many American college campuses that year in an effort to promote the value of peace to the youth of the day. In an effort to perhaps prevent the imminent European conflict to come, Eleanor joined with the Catholic Association of International Peace during its fall events to make a public plea to reconsider the use of brute force to achieve a lasting peace. Instead, she counseled, we ought to first look within ourselves for the peace we so desire and thereby avert war.
She invoked the following verse at the opening of her speech, one which she voiced at many of her public appearances in the fall of 1936 –
“I am weary with thought of the madness
That rules in the kingdoms of men;
The hopelessness, horror and sadness
That preludes world slaughter again:
My nights are undone with pursuing
Dream-ways where I labor for naught;
My days were beginnings of doing,
Where hardly beginnings are wrought.”
She continued by describing her own experiences of the first World War, describing her encounter with the wounded returning from the war who were housed in a ward for the insane. This inspired her to reflect on the meaning of war and its impact on every home, every community, and every individual, regardless of his or her personal participation in the conflict. She noted that these lessons never seem to temper policy-makers’ promotion of war, even though the stated goals of any conflict are rarely achieved. Her lessons certainly bear repeating and continue to resonate today. Please enjoy this piece of our history as we celebrate an anniversary of Eleanor’s visit with our Rosary College students.
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