My summer reading included several biographies of the Roosevelts, most recently "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
These books show another side of the Greatest Generation: widespread racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, and other social blights that hindered recovery from the Depression and jeopardized national defense during WW II.
More often than not, FDR remained expediently silent, declining to support anti-lynching legislation, ignoring opportunities to save millions of Jews from the Holocaust, and succumbing to the paranoia of his advisors to order millions of Japanese Americans into detention camps.
Through it all, Eleanor Roosevelt rises far above her generation, a courageous champion for human and civil rights and a lonely advocate for making the post-war U.S. a true land of equality and freedom. Her birthday Oct. 11 should be celebrated as a national holiday.
Not fully appreciating her greatness, I wrote to her several times when I was a kid. She always wrote back, and her thoughtful responses to a 15-year-old testify to her magnanimity.
In response to my inquiries about how to go into politics, she offered this advice: "… it is much better to have a profession before you decide to enter politics because politics is not really a career."
To my question about whether 18-year-olds should be allowed to vote, she replied, "If young people are old enough to fight for their country at that age, then they are old enough to vote."