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Franklin Delano Roosevelt A True Hero History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a renowned poet, once said, “The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do without thought of fame. If it comes at all it will come because it is deserved, not because it is sought after” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quotes). Fame presents itself to only those who deserve it, and in history, only the greatest of men, only the champions of honor, integrity, and wisdom earn it. None have proven themselves to be greater men than Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His words and actions echo across time, affecting America and the world even today. In the 20th century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed and sustained America when he showed the people hope of overcoming even the worst difficulty by never giving up in the face of his own polio, when he led the people in World War II, preserving democracy and the safety of America, and when he enacted the New Deal to bring prosperity back for Americans.

To understand how one man could define a nation, one must look to what defined that man. Roosevelt grew up in a loving home, with two parents dedicated towards his well-being and honorable upbringing. His father instilled in him a Victorian etiquette, and his mother gave him much love and affection (Gallagher 4). At the same time, being part of one of the oldest families in New York (4), Roosevelt never had want of anything. Yet, even with the pampered lifestyle provided to him, Roosevelt never once acted in an arrogant or pompous manner towards those less fortunate than him (1). To him, it was a duty and a privilege to help those around him. Additionally, in his education, Roosevelt never faltered. As a little boy, he fell under the tutelage of a Swiss governess (1). There, he learned French, English, and sympathy for the masses (1). Thus, while Roosevelt grew up in a world of riches and comfort, he never let himself forget the masses, the people needing his help.

In the 20th century, a time when America echoed with the cries of the hungry and poor, Roosevelt, through his perseverance against his own malady, proved to the citizens of the United States that no challenge was too difficult to overcome. FDR had been vacationing with his family when the disease, polio, struck (1). In the summer of 1921, Roosevelt became bedridden and lost the ability to walk forever (1). Yet even as this tragedy struck Roosevelt, he took it in stride. Paralyzed from the waist down, reliant on others to help him walk, FDR should have been a man broken and devoid of hope (XIII). To the contrary, Roosevelt never let it hamper him. Never did he say, “I cannot walk.” Instead, he endured the pain of standing to help his nation stand. In the thousands of photos of FDR, not one shows him crippled and broken (XIII). Rather he is shown to be a man of action, just as he was before polio took his legs from him (2). Through his resolve, FDR granted his nation the strength to stand on its own two feet. In a time of depression many had given up hope. They had forgotten what it was to dream and live, and FDR gave that back to them. When he stood, one could not help but be awed at the man’s perseverance and struggle. Thus, when FDR fell at the hands of polio, he rose up again stronger and more resolute than ever, and in doing so, he gave America a trait held dear even today: hope.

In World War II, Franklin Roosevelt preserved America’s safety and democracy, leading it through the worst war in the history of mankind. Having served in World War I, FDR knew the intricacies and dangers posed by engaging in war (23). As a result, prior to the vicious Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt chose to prohibit American participation, allowing the Europeans settle their own matters. Yet, when Japan attempted to cripple the US navy on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt could no longer stand by and tolerate the fighting (Bentley, Ziegler 953). FDR declared to his fellow Americans, “this date…will live in infamy” (A Date Which Will Live in Infamy), moving to join the war in Europe, doing everything to preserve America’s democracy and freedom. Rather than reel from the shock of Pearl Harbor, FDR immediately took steps to mobilize troops and engage Japan and the Axis in total warfare (Gallagher 168). As a wartime general, FDR possessed confidence, good judgment and courage when facing decisions that could very well mean the end of the United States. Even as he faced these choices, FDR stood firm and never wavered. This decisiveness, in turn, ensured that the United States could stand firm against its enemies, displaying no doubt, no fear. Roosevelt had 75,000 tanks and 125,000 planes set as his production targets in 1943 (169), and as a result, the unemployment rate dropped to 2% (Depression & WWII). The industrial economy boomed as the demands for United States manufactured weapons exploded (Depression & WWII). While the people of the US clamored to find jobs, FDR spent most of his time agonizing over war strategies, the mobilization of troops, and the relationship of the Allied nations (Gallagher 170-171). A rise in production brought many families out of poverty and ensured a domestic tranquility while a foreign war took place. FDR had ensured that no internal issue, like poverty, would cause his nation to forfeit its sovereignty to the Axis power. Along with increasing wartime manufacturing, Roosevelt also had a room made in the White House solely for the purpose of wartime discussion, labeling it the “Map Room” (171). Only six people, including the president, had access to this room (171). This way FDR had constant information as to the progress of the war. At the same time, FDR conducted domestic and international tours designed to boost morale and ultimately bolster the United States’ defense against the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy (172). In 1942, and 1943, Roosevelt traveled across the United States inspecting and judging munitions plants and military personnel in an effort to ensure America’s possession of an adequate defense (172). In Hawaii, he stopped to see wounded Japanese-American soldiers, displaying to the United States and the world that no matter one’s ethnic background they were ultimately all Americans (172). While abroad, FDR spent 120 days in Argentina, Casablanca, Tehran, Quebec, and Cairo trying to preserve the relationships between the Allies and to ensure the Allied victory (172). FDR maintained one of the most volatile, yet essential alliances in history as he deliberated over the wartime issues with both Churchill and Stalin. In these talks, Roosevelt made sure that the Allies never faltered and that an Allied defeat would never take place. Thus, Roosevelt preserved the liberty and freedom of America by leading America in the most devastating of wars, World War II.

Roosevelt sustained America as he implemented the New Deal, giving Americans hope and bolstering the US economy. With the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the later years of the Great Depression, the people of the United States were in need for an immediate relief and recovery (The New Deal). As Roosevelt took the reigns of America, he found her to be a broken country in need of serious repair and reform. Thus, the New Deal was born. Within his first 100 days of presidency, FDR implemented plans and programs designed to deliver immediate relief to the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid” as well as “all classes and groups and sections of [America]” (The New Deal). Roosevelt enacted reforms that stopped the banking crisis in its tracks (The New Deal). He cut federal costs and pensions to reduce the economic burden the government placed upon its citizens (The New Deal). Through the Beer-Wine Revenue Act, he legalized the selling of alcoholic beverages, opening a new industry for the American people (The New Deal). With the Civilian Conservation Act, three million people between the ages of 18 and 25 were given jobs (The New Deal). He gave $500 million to states as a form of relief (The New Deal). Along with this, FDR also helped support farmers by subsidizing them when they reduced their crop production (The New Deal). Yet the most effective of FDR’s arsenal of deals came in the form of the Tennessee Valley Act (The New Deal). Through this act, the government was able to improve the lives of those living in the United States river basin, a sizable portion of the United States, by generating and selling power through dams and hydroelectric power plants (The New Deal). This act provided jobs in construction, engineering, and maintenance for many Americans as well cheap energy for them (The New Deal). Along with this, FDR implemented many plans designed to provide jobs and money for many Americans while at the same time providing benefits to the country (The New Deal). For instance, with the Civil Works Administration, Roosevelt gave money to governors and local mayors to start public projects such as road construction and dam construction (The New Deal). All of these organizations and acts were designed with one purpose: to help Americans bear and overcome the Great Depression. They provided jobs, money, and food for many. They assuaged the worried mother’s fear of being unable to provide for her children and a worried father’s fear of being unable to support his family. They saved America. Through the New Deal, FDR managed to sustain and preserve America against the Great Depression and against that “needless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” against fear.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed America by proving to Americans that any challenge can be overcome, by leading them through the most devastating war in history, World War II, and by implementing the New Deal, helping Americans weather the Great Depression. FDR’s actions and deeds have been heard through the centuries. His deeds have changed America forever and have inspired a new generation of leaders, and without him, America could not have hoped to overcome the many arduous trials that it faced. Roosevelt demonstrated time and time again that he belonged among the greatest men in history, that he had earned fame. Fame only presents itself to those who deserve it, and none have proven themselves more deserving of it than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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