The dedication of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park took place on October 17, 2012. On that day, three years ago, hundreds of people gathered at the Park to honor President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to celebrate his four freedoms. Printed below is the speech given by Founder and Chair Emeritus of Four Freedoms Park, Ambassador William vanden Heuvel.
President Roosevelt was a voice of the people of the United States during the most difficult crises of the 20th Century. He led America out of the despair of the Great Depression. He led us to victory in World War II. Four times he was elected President of the United States and by temperament and talent, by energy and instinct, Franklin Roosevelt was ready for the challenges that confronted him.
He was a breath of fresh air in our political life. So vital. So confident and optimistic. So warm and good humored. He was also a man of incomparable personal courage. At the age of 39, he was stricken with Infantile Paralysis. He would never walk again or be able to stand alone unassisted. The pain of his struggle is itself painful to recall. Learning again, to stand, to rely upon the physical support of others, and never, never giving into despair, to self-pity or discouragement.
He gave that courage to his country in its time of greatest need. He replaced fear with faith. Transforming our government into an active instrument of social justice. It was a time when heroes were possible, when idealism was admired, when public service was the highest calling. It was also a time when Adolf Hitler laid claim to the future. President Roosevelt's response was to make American the arsenal of democracy.
He was Commander-In-Chief of the greatest military force in human history. He crafted the victorious alliance that won the war. He was the father of the nuclear age. He guided that blueprint for the world that was to follow. The vision of the United Nations, the commitment to collective security, the determination to end colonialism, the economic plan for a prosperous world. This is the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt that we remember today.
But it is not worldly power and grandeur that cause us to remember Franklin Roosevelt. It is the cause of human freedom and social justice to which he gave so much of his life. Four Freedoms Park will be an eternal reminder for all of us and those who inherit our places as to what America's dream really means.
Thank you for being her on this historic day. Let the children everywhere hear the bells of freedom. Let our leaders be unafraid in the quest for peace and social justice. Come my friends, come all of us, come to this place and find again the inspiration, the courage and the strength. It is not too late to seek a newer world and I invite you to find it here.
Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, Founder & Chair Emeritus