(By Jonathan Sprout)
A child of misfortune,
Had her share of tears.
And losing both her parents
Taught her how to face her fears.
So when this shy and simple lady
Became the President’s wife,
She found that helping other people
Brought a purpose to her life.
Casual and friendly
With a heart of gold,
She brought her warm compassion
To the lonely and the cold.
Champion of the needy.
Strength in every word,
She became the voice of others
Who were begging to be heard.
And Eleanor always took a stand
For the hungry and the homeless all across the land.
Oh Eleanor, it was not the life you planned,
But you knew it made you happy to lend a helping hand.
A most admired woman
She was “Eleanor Everywhere.”
She considered it her mission
To show goodwill and care.
She went all around the world
Not afraid to fight
For the cause of every human,
For the chance to make things right.
BRIDGE: Though she had her share of broken dreams
Mrs. Roosevelt would live
Defending simple human rights
With a heart that had to give.
© 2000 Kanukatunes (ASCAP)
Shy and insecure as a child, she emerged as a public figure when her husband Franklin was elected president of the United States in 1932. She brought her great compassion and concern to the world’s neediest people. As US representative to the United Nations, she helped create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and became a champion of equal rights for minorities. The most active and influential -- and sometimes controversial -- of all US presidents’ wives, she became so respected and admired, she was often called “First Lady of the World.”
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -- Eleanor Roosevelt
She gave power to the weak, stood for those who could not stand and spoke for the speechless. She represented those whose voices could not be heard - because the homeless and the hungry and the downtrodden also deserved to be loved and respected. Her childhood problems sensitized her to the needs of others. She knew from personal experience what it was like to feel ugly and unloved and when she found herself in a position of power, she did what she could to help others who felt ugly and unloved and uncared for. She taught fairness. Everyone deserves the respect of others. Everyone deserves the love of others. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
Eleanor was married to the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. She could have hidden behind her husband’s presidential power but she chose instead to reveal her own special personality, to be more visible, more compassionate, more controversial and risk taking in her concern for the downtrodden and unfortunate. She gave the world a glimpse of a caring, feeling human being where often before had been distant detached President’s wives.
Her willingness to be more available to the people was heartwarming and deeply moving to many in her day. Her presence inspired others to care and risk and give and help -- to let go of their false notions that they were better people simply because they’d been wealthier and more fortunate. She gave hope to those who might otherwise have given up.
I visited Val Kill, her former home (see the link below) and recommend a visit. It’s just a few miles away from the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site.
I most remember the upstairs screened in porch that overlooked a private pond and wooded area at Val Kill. This is where she loved to spend much of her time in her later years. In the summertime, when the evenings were warm, she would sleep out there.
I also remember how casual and camp-like the place was. Occasionally, she would entertain foreign dignitaries there. You couldn’t help but marvel at how relaxing and comfortable the atmosphere must have been with these people who were used to a much stuffier life-style than Mrs. Roosevelt cared to offer.
Val Kill showed me that Eleanor Roosevelt was a real person. She clearly was not caught up in the shallow rituals of the rich and famous. In spite of her wealth and fame, she lived simply.
Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, Hyde Park, NY
Eleanor Roosevelt biography - Wikipedia