In his 1941 State of the Union Address, as the nation prepared for war, President Roosevelt spelled out "Four Freedoms" as a reminder of what we must fight for. From the days of his first Presidential campaign during the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt spoke directly to the people. "I pledge you, I pledge myself," he said in his 1932 acceptance speech, "to a new deal for the American people." Four years later, he proclaimed that "this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny." Throughout his Presidency, 1933 - 1945, he addressed America by radio in what came to be known as fireside chats. Each idea, each phrase was underscored by courage and optimism that inspired no less in the people he served.
More than 50 years after Roosevelt's death, his own words call out from the walls of his memorial as if he were somehow present. Those of us who know FDR only as an historical figure will recognize these words by their association with great and catastrophic events. For the many Americans who lived through the Roosevelt years, the words recall personal struggles and triumphs during 12 years that seemed like a lifetime.