Posted on February 14, 2019 · Posted in Roosevelt House General News

As ever Eleanor Roosevelt brings her compassion to show how this holiday about love can have a wider resonance even in the midst of prejudice and war.

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about Valentine’s Day several times during WW II in her nationally syndicated daily newspaper column “My Day.”  In 1943 she noted that it coincided “with the climax of Negro History Week, and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History holds its annual breakfast on that day. It is important for all of us to know the story of the people of the United States as a whole, and every minority group has contributed toward the making of our nation.”  In 1944 she met the wife of a serviceman who “showed me, with great pride, the valentines her husband had sent her, which were made out of glass from wrecked Japanese planes. He had cut out hearts and pasted them on pieces of paper with appropriate sentiments written around them. Love will have its say even under difficulties.” And in 1945 she noted, “This is St. Valentine’s Day, and even in the midst of war the saint, who is both very old and very young, must be remembered. So let us pay a tribute to love which springs eternally in the hearts of men, and salute today all lovers who make the world more beautiful.”

Mrs. Roosevelt attended a Valentine’s Day dance in 1944 at the newly opened United Federal Labor Canteen in Washington DC that was sponsored by the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Unusually for the time in heavily segregated Washington DC, it was a racially integrated event, a cause that Eleanor endorsed. Folk singer Pete Seeger performed, seen in his Army uniform delighting Eleanor and the other members of the military there.