Will there come another as Franklin Delano Roosevelt?
This country has never before or after him be so united, so together. During World War II, he had the country working three shifts producing massive amounts of material to support the “Arsenal of Democracy.”
Americans endured rationing — consumer products that we take for granted today were not available as most of the country’s resources were being deployed in the war effort. You could not buy a car, which did not matter as gasoline was being deployed for Patton’s tank drive across Europe.
Women could not buy hose as all available nylon was being used for parachutes. Tin drives, rubber drives. In a country of 120 million, we fielded a force of 16 million troops.
There, of course, was a draft. But voluntary enlistment was extensive.
President Roosevelt understood the American people. In the late ‘30s, we had a total armed force of 375,000 in a country whose foreign policy was isolationist. Roosevelt fully understood at that time that the country would have to go to war to rid Europe of Hitler and Japan’s aggression. Isolationism as our policy was brought to an end by Pearl Harbor.
Forging strong alliances with Churchill, whose England was enduring the “blitz,” and Stalin, whose beloved Russia had been invaded by Hitler, and aided by dedicated staff such as Harry Hopkins, we executed the largest invasion in history of mankind to free Europe. He went down the 38 generals to choose George Marshall, at war’s end, known as the “Organizer of Victory.”
In 1940, Dwight Eisenhower was a lieutenant colonel, and by the end of 1943, he was supreme commander of Allied powers in Europe. In the Pacific theater, there was Gen. Douglas McArthur, who always felt he was being under-resourced, and he was.
The strategy was “Europe first.”
He accomplished all of this with 14 pounds of steel braces on his legs, stricken by polio. It is said only 5 percent of the public knew this as the press never photographed his disability or mentioned it.
I have a photograph of him in 1933 at his inauguration, and the famous photo of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the conclusion of the Yalta Conference two months before he passed. In 12 years, the man aged 35 years.
At the 1944 convention, when it was an unkept secret that the president would not live to complete his fourth term, Roosevelt chose Harry Truman as his running mate. Truman is considered by historians as a “near-great” president, and Franklin Roosevelt is considered a “great” president, along with Washington and Lincoln.
We could sure use a man like Franklin Roosevelt again.