A heroic anniversary

Eighty-six years ago Monday — March 4, 1933 — Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as America’s 32nd president.

The Great Depression was devastating the country. Millions were out of work, lines were around the block at soup kitchens. Fortunes had been lost and confidence in the banking system was waning.

Yet, Roosevelt began his term oozing confidence. The most famous line of his first inaugural address — “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” — was a rallying cry for the country. He promised action and he delivered.

Beginning with a “Banking Holiday” and continuing for the next 100 days, Roosevelt’s administration hammered out programs that were collectively known as the “New Deal.”

The Banking Holiday closed banks and the Federal Reserve System to stop runs on the institutions. Congress passed a law that allowed the Federal Reserve to print more currency to satisfy every demand for funds. That quelled the runs.

Congress quickly passed the Public Works Administration and the National Industrial Recovery Act to begin to give jobs to the unemployed. The Tennessee Valley Authority was created to provide electricity to poor, rural areas.

Not every attempt was a roaring success but Americans were convinced they had a leader who cared about them. He was easily re-elected in 1936.

Roosevelt, of course, went on to become the U.S.’s longest serving president. He was re-elected three times and led the nation to victory in World War II. He died April 12, 1945, less than a month before Germany’s surrender in the European Theater of Operations. Japan surrendered in August.

So, the anniversary of FDR’s inauguration is an appropriate day to salute this great man who brought the U.S. through some of its darkest hours.

(Source: History.com)

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