I have been trying not to do too much today, which is not something that comes easily to me, but I would be remiss if I did not note that today marks the 75th anniversary of the death of Franklin Roosevelt. He died at the health spa he founded for the treatment of infantile paralysis in Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945. I am old enough to remember a time when there were still plenty of Americans–your teacher, the mailman, your Aunt Shirley, whoever–who regarded Franklin Roosevelt as essentially a family member. While I do believe it is unhealthy and unwise to venerate any public official to such a degree, it is not difficult to see why so many would have thought in such manner given the way Roosevelt had come over the radio into people’s living rooms offering a soothing, confident tone during the Depression and Second World War. One of the things that has been so devastating these past several years has been to see the erosion of everything that the men and women of the mid-century–Franklin & Eleanor, Harry Truman, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and Dwight Eisenhower to name just a few–be undone thread by thread. Many today do not recognize how fragile the thing is and how difficult it was to put together to begin with.
I have been perusing some of the coverage and came across this piece by Kurt Graham, the director of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, in which Mr. Graham recounts what Truman and Roosevelt were doing on this date seventy-five year ago: preparing their separate talks for the annual Jefferson Dinner to have been held the following day. None of that happened, of course. With Roosevelt’s death Truman ascended to the president and a new era had commenced.
(image/FDR Presidential Library)