Anniversary of a hero’s death
Seventy-three years ago Thursday, April 12, 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt quietly died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Ga.
The hero who led the United States out of the Great Depression had been elected to the presidency four times. The brave leader who championed the Allies in World War II passed away a mere 18 days before Adolf Hitler committed suicide and 26 days before Victory in Europe Day.
The Japanese surrendered some three months later.
Like another great president, Abraham Lincoln, FDR was both revered and reviled during his term in the White House. To political enemies, he was an evil genius who would do anything to win elections and pass legislation. To his backers, he was a caring paternal figure who led the country through some of its darkest hours.
In our family, Roosevelt was revered. He was the first president our father had been old enough to vote for (FDR’s re-election in 1936). And, until his death, he was the only president father had voted for.
The family’s attraction to Roosevelt was easily explained — he gave comfort during horrific economic times and showed endless courage throughout the war. His confidence in the country gave its citizens confidence.
Even now, 71 years after his death, his words are inspirational:
From his first inaugural address during the depths of the Depression — “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
From his fourth, and final, inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1945 — “So we pray to Him now for the vision to see our way clearly — to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men — to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.”
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