A few weeks ago, I wrote that our local media, on Dec. 27, completely ignored the fact that on that date in 1982, Jack Swigert, a true native Colorado hero, died.
Our media missed a local hero – but, it is hard to believe that our national news media let Jan. 30 go by without any mention made that on that date in 1882, our country’s 32nd president – the only president to be elected four times – was born.
You don’t have to be a Democrat to admire Roosevelt, and I’m one Republican who does hold FDR in high respect.
The fact is when Roosevelt defeated Hoover in the 1932 election and became president in 1933; he was the “man for the times.” He gained his office when we needed a force of new ideas – when any good idea was better than business as usual. The warmth in his voice, the comfort in his words, convinced even the cynical when he pointed out, “That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
The rays of hope he inspired shone on every one, everywhere. Buoyed by his confidence and by the extraordinary activity of his first term, our country’s faith in its democratic system and confidence in its future remained firm.
In fact, Roosevelt’s first 100 days are a case study of how an individual can not only move a mountain, but also turn it upside down. His first 100 days were so successful that the 1994 Republican Party attempted to follow his blueprint.
Certainly, when it came to FDR there was no middle ground. But, love him or hate him, he did develop our country’s path and the record that we have followed for the past half-century. That being the case, it is important to recognize what has been accomplished since his death.
The period since 1945 has seen the continuous unfolding of the economic miracle of democratic capitalism, not only in the U.S. but also in Western Europe and Eastern Asia.
In the year following World War II, our returning veterans were able to acquire an education, jobs, cars and houses, which after the war were equipped with what was then considered unbelievable luxuries such as washing machines, refrigerators, with food-freezing compartments and the newly marketed television sets.
The ‘50s then brought a vast system of great highways and affordable cars, which made it possible to live in suburban communities away from one’s place of work.
Today, America’s living standard has more than doubled since Roosevelt’s death. But, equally as important is the fact that only under our political system, which Roosevelt helped to preserve, could the social legislation of the ‘60s have taken place as peacefully as it did.
Think of it, our entire system of legally instituted and tolerated racial discrimination was abolished in the span of just a few years. After the civil rights movement came the movement for greater minority and sexual economic equality and well-being, the consumer and the health-related movement followed.
While all these changes were taking place at home, there were also startling movements taking place in the international theatre – changes that Roosevelt’s policies had prepared the world for, and our accomplishments on that scene should not be overlooked.
Unfortunately, there are still wars taking place in our world, but in the years since World War II ended – no country has been subjected to a nuclear exchange.
Democracy was re-established and maintained throughout Western Europe and Greece, while simultaneously being introduced and successfully instituted in India and Japan.
Although Russia’s Communistic totalitarianism had not been eliminated within the boundaries of the Soviet Empire, they held power and control only through the use of their armed forces. But, today the Berlin Wall is down and Eastern European countries are seeking their own destinies.
Because Roosevelt was the “Man of the Decade” during our country’s darkest hours, our system of government was persevered.
Shortly before Roosevelt’s death – which occurred only days before VE Day – William Allen White, the renowned Republican editor from Kansas, wrote, “Biting good Republican nails, we are compelled to say that Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the most unaccountable president the United States has ever seen. He has seen more of this amazing world than Marco Polo. And darn your smiling old picture, here it is: – We who hate your guts – salute you.”
And I do too – even if our country’s present day media forgot you.
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