Eulogies from Georgia Newspapers after FDR’s Death in Warm Springs
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“Old Ship, Old Flag, Same Mission”
Today the eyes of the world are on a man who was practically unknown beyond the Missouri county in which he lived a dozen years ago. Harry S. Truman served as judge of the Jackson County, Mo. Court from 1922 to 1934. He had a fine World War I record, he was popular in his own community, but the rest of the country was unaware of his existence.
Missouri needed a United States senator in 1935, and the finger of fate pointed to Judge Harry Truman. He had friends. They were good politicians, they presented his cause to the voters of Missouri appealingly, and he was elected. That was a short ten years ago.
Senator Truman was serving his second term in the Senate when the Democratic National Convention met last summer. He had attracted attention as chairman of the Truman Committee of the Senate, a position in which unusual qualities of leadership and thoroughness were demonstrated. His name was put forward in the Chicago convention as a compromise candidate for the vice presidency, and he was nominated.
Now he is President of the United States, where he succeeds the man who has led his countrymen in peace and war since March 4, 1933.
With Great Britain and Russia, this nation must finish World War II and largely shape the peace that is to follow, a fact of which the new president is keenly aware.
One who succeeds any great leader is inevitably sobered by an attitude which the public assumes. That is particularly true when the great leader is suddenly removed by death in the midst of a grave crisis.
President Truman takes the helm of our ship of state with the nation’s armed forces pressing toward victory in Germany and in the west Pacific. He is commander in chief of the Army and Navy. He falls heir to a tremendously significant place in the Churchill-Roosevelt-Stalin council which has been able to iron out conflicts in successive personal conferences. There, too, he will face a great opportunity, and an almost crushing challenge. For Josef Stalin and Winston Churchill will be making their appraisal of this new president of the United States with the memory of Franklin Roosevelt in their minds, and awareness of that appraisal will be sobering to the man who took the oath Thursday to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
It is a poor citizen of this country who, regardless of his party affiliation or his opinion of the man who died at Warm Springs Thursday afternoon, does not prayerfully hope the new president will measure up to his grave responsibility. The oath he took yesterday appealed to the noblest and best in his heart, mind and soul. It bade him thrust out of his thinking everything that is not dedicated to the well-being of this nation, and of those other nations which look to us for leadership in the extremely difficult years ahead.
The ship of state sails on. New hands are on the wheel, and a new name is signed to state papers. But it is the same ship, under the same grand old flag, and her dedication to “liberty and justice” remains as it ever has been.
“President Roosevelt Answers Final Summons”
The announcement of the death of President Roosevelt yesterday afternoon has cast a pall over the entire universe. That the commander-in-chief of our armed forces, the great humanitarian who had assumed world leadership in the plan to establish an enduring peace for all peoples at the end of the present global war, should suddenly pass out of the picture at one of the most critical stages of the war with Germany was an eventuality that few were prepared for. The shock provoked by the announcement was universal, for wherever want, insecurity, suffering and oppression were endured, the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt constituted almost the single ray of hope that a better day would soon dawn.
And while countless millions are not only stunned, but grieved that he should be struck down at the height of his usefulness, there is consolation in the thought that the foundation for world peace has been laid and the machinery installed and readied for operation as soon as the post-war era shalt dawn. Only the finishing touches remain to be applied at San Francisco the latter part of this month. That the President could not live to participate in this all-important conference, indeed to witness his arduous efforts translated into action in the world of tomorrow is tragic; however, it is believed that his spirits and the noble precepts he stood for will dominate the San Francisco conference, as well as the actions of the subsequent peace negotiators, for his conception of a world organization to effectively guarantee peace and security for all peoples has so thoroughly permeated the thinking of every race and creed that they will not be denied.
In these days, President Roosevelt is thought of mainly as our war president - the man whose planning and leadership are responsible for transforming the vast resources of this nation from a peace-time to a war footing in a miraculous brief period and for quickly moulding a war machine that has never been equalled since the beginning of recorded history; yet the early days of his administration were equally as outstanding. Accepting the reins of government at a time when the greatest nation on earth was in the depths of despair with unemployment and discontent so widespread that our cherished democratic principles were in jeopardy, he invoked first one bold stroke and then another, with the result that fear gave way to confidence, unemployment was diminished and prosperity restored.
A man of quick decisions, one who did not regard precedents when they stood in the way of what he conceived to be progress and the welfare of the greatest number, Mr. Roosevelt naturally invited criticism, which is inescapable for one who occupies the highest post in the land for so long a time, yet his policies were always vindicated by the people who looked to him as the champion of their rights and prerogatives, and when his historians assess the net accomplishments of the twelve momentous years of his administration, the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt will rank high, if not topmost, among the immortals of all time.
The vice president, Harry S. Truman, acceded to the presidency two hours after the death of Mr. Roosevelt. Accepting this responsibility at the most critical period in world history, President Truman realizes the colossal aspects of the burden that has descended upon him, and it is reassuring in this dark hour to know that his first official act was the decision to retain the entire Roosevelt cabinet with a view to following the policies inaugurated by President Roosevelt, including the continued vigorous prosecuting of the war to a speedy and victorious conclusion, and the establishment of the kind of peace in the post-war world that his distinguished predecessor envisioned.
“A Voice the World Needed is Stilled”
President Roosevelt is dead.
News of his passing came as stark, unbelievable tragedy to a nation he had led through a dozen of the most critical, action-packed years in all its history.
It is difficult to realize, even yet, that the great American who had guided our ship of state through the perilous waters of economic chaos and a two-front war has succumbed on the eve of a victory for which he is due so much of the credit.
His death comes as a blow, not to the people of this nation alone, but to all mankind. All over the world, those who believed in the democratic freedoms, in the right of men to live free and unfettered lives, are grieving today. They looked, and with complete justification, to Roosevelt as a leader and a symbol.
His untimely passing robs humankind of its greatest champion. History will accord him a place alongside the very few truly great men who have combined ability and leadership along with a very definite understanding of the problems of the little men and women of the world.
President Roosevelt died, as he would have had it, in harness. He passed away in his second home, amid the Georgia scenes he loved so well, carrying on until the very last the ponderous duties which were his.
The nation and the world have indeed sustained a stunning loss. But the tragic sorrow which i sours today must serve to strengthen our determination that the cause which he led and the ideals for which he fought will be attained.
The German war, which even now approaches a climax, must be brought to a speedy victory. And we must continue our allot assault on the war lords of Japan. The aggressor nations which he so hated must be brought to book. There must be no slipups, this time, in effectuating a just and lasting peace.
That peace can become reality, as stark a reality as is the death of our wartime President. And it will stand, once it does, as the most appropriate memorial of all to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the great American whom we mourn today.
WHAT CAN WE SAY? What can we do?
Our President, our Commander in Chief, our friend is gone. At the full tide of his usefulness and reknown, in the full dawn of the victory to which he led us and for which he gave his life, Franklin D. Roosevelt has passed into the peace of God. Let us be thankful, even in the shock and stabbing pain of grief, that there was no lingering illness, only a sudden yet gentle gentle slipping away in the quiet of sleep; and that his last days were spent happily under Georgia’s April skies, in the beauty of the springtime of his Southern home.
It was there, at Warm Springs, many years ago that Mr. Roosevelt mastered a fateful crisis in his career. Stricken in the prime of manhood with what seemed to be an unconquerable malady, he fought and won with courage and faith the long battle that made him serenely strong through suffering. Now we of America face a similar crisis in our national body and mind; for we are so stricken and stunned by the loss of our beloved leader that we can hardly imagine what the future will be without him. But his heroic example bids us go forward and - trusting, as he did, in Divine Providence - turn a great affliction into a greater blessing for mankind.
Thus only can we pay meet tribute to the life of Franklin Roosevelt. Ours are the wills and hearts that must carry on the mighty labors from which he rests and bring to pass his “vision splendid.” Surely, in this solemn hour all that is little, selfish, partisan or ignoble in our national life will melt away in a surge of the strongest and highest unity we have ever achieved. The war must be won on every front. The peace must be made and kept secure. “The four great freedoms of common humanity” - freedom of speech and of worship, freedom from fear and want - must be promoted and safeguarded, both in our own land and around the world. These are the grand objectives for which President Roosevelt sacrificed himself as fully as the soldier who dies in the flaming front of battle; these the ideals which he brought gloriously far on the way to fulfillment. And these are the victories for which America must strive with unwavering will, if she is to be true to herself and to the memory of one of the greatest, one of the noblest men “that ever lived in the tide of times.”
Let us, then, pledge whole-hearted and single-minded support to all the heads of our Government who must carry on the tremendous tasks of war and peace, especially to the new President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. He is dedicated to all the principles and purposes for which Mr. Roosevelt stood and, we are confident, will rise to his responsibilities. To Mrs. Roosevelt and her bereaved dear ones, we extend a sympathy which shares their sorrow. And to the heroic spirit who has passed from time to eternity we offer a reverent salute, praying that we his people may gather greater courage and kindness, greater vision and faith as they think of him,
Who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph: Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake.
“Franklin D. Roosevelt”
When one of history’s towering figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt is suddenly and unexpectedly removed by death, the shock is so complete and so stunning that the full impact of the tragic event cannot be felt immediately.
We grope for words and intelligent thoughts with which to express the grief which overwhelms us, the terrible sense of loss which grips our very being, the aching void which will not be filled.
President Roosevelt is dead! The word have a hollow, unreal sound. It is almost as if we have to force ourselves to believe something that we do not believe to be true.
Abroad in the land today there is a feeling of emptiness; as a nation, we are as a ship which has been bereft of its rudder in stormy weather. We have an uneasy sense of drifting, with anchor cut away.
The true greatness of Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a statesman, as a military leader, as a force in the affairs of men, and as a humanitarian, cannot be measured during the brief hours after his death. History will accord him his proper place in due time, and none will doubt that it will be near the top of the list.
It was one of those little understood quirks of a capricious fate that ended the life and career of this eminent American, this world leader, during one of history’s greatest moments.
All that he had worked for, all of the fruits of his magnificent labors, his life’s dream, were within his grasp when the end came so suddenly.
It was his vigorous and brave leadership that had brought us to the brink of victory over the enemies of free people the world over.
It was this same wise leadership and his nobility of purpose that had contrived a pattern, carefully, patiently and painstaking fashioned, for creating a world in which men of good will everywhere would strive earnestly to settle their problems without resort to force and arms.
There are so many things that one would like to say about Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a man, as a leader, and as a humanitarian, that one is at a loss to say them in putting down a few brief words about him on the morning after his death.
The many eventful things that happened during his twelve years in the presidency, the New Deal and all its works, the bitter political battles, his magnificent courage in overcoming his physical affliction, Pearl Harbor, the war - these and many others crowd in upon you, but in front of and above this kaleidoscopic picture stands the towering figure of the man himself. The striking personality. The leader. The man who stood for America’s greatness and all the things that are America.
Friends and enemies alike will accord him this role. None will deny that his leadership was unsurpassed. The mistakes he made and the good he accomplished must be weighed by history in whose hands the final verdict rests.
In our period of national mourning, when our grief shall be poured out for the loss of our leader, we must bear in mind that our chief obligation of the future is to reconcile ourselves to the loss of this dynamic leader. The world goes on and pauses only briefly for the passing from the stage of a great man.
We cannot now know what effect the death of President Roosevelt will have on the course of the war or on the course of the peace. But momentous events have been set into motion - events which will continue to rush down upon us and swirl about us with undiminished fury and speed.
We must pull ourselves together and set ourselves to completing the tasks which but a few hours ago were in the hands of the helmsman, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
We have a new president, a new leader, a new Commander-in-Chief. As Americans, it is our bounden duty to give to President Harry Truman the full measure of our support, without stint and without the asking. There is still a long and hard road ahead. Together, we must travel it, as good soldiers, as Americans.
Franklin Roosevelt would be happy in death if he knew that in the scheme of things his fellow Americans, though he has gone, were moving forward together with unfaltering step, guided by the same bright star that destiny chose to guide his footsteps while on earth.
Goodbye, Mr. President. May God rest your soul.
“The Nation Will Carry On to Victory and Peace”
So many statesmen and qualified spokesmen have already paid eulogies to President Roosevelt as a great leader, and have analyzed the effects of his passing upon the conduct of the war and the national economy, that we hesitate to impose our own feeble words upon those who seek some degree of consolation in this most trying hour in our history.
Had the president become an invalid - had he weakened in mind and in courage - had he become vacillating in action - had he lost in great part his strong convictions - had he, for a moment, departed from his determination to see through the great job to which 130 million Americans had assigned him, and continued in office as president, great would have been our calamity and the calamity of the world. Our woe would have been tremendous, our possibilities for injury would have been beyond the human kind to comprehend.
And so must be written the epitaph of a great and fearless statesman and warrior:
“He died in action in the thick of the fight.”
The United Nations will, of course, win the war. Victory today is within their grasp. The HERALD believes they will win the peace.
President Truman will measure up to his new responsibilities. We remain a great nation - a great people. New leaders will arise. We already have strong leaders on the battle fronts and at home. We can rely on Eisenhower and on MacArthur. We have strong men in Congress, and other men of dominant personalities will come forward.
Truly we respected Franklin Roosevelt as a powerful personality and as a great force in the life of the United States and of the world.
But brave men - brave Americans - will not falter, now that their leader is gone. Our nation will go on to greater things in its own life and in the affairs of the world. As much as we are stunned and saddened for the moment, few of us will lose heart.
Military victory is in the offing, and a victory for us and for the rest of the world can be won at the peace tables that are soon to follow.
Americans - the real sort - do not know the meaning of despair.
“A World Calamity”
Millions of people in all sections of the world who still cherish a love for liberty, self-government, the pursuit of happiness and the Christian way of living, are thrown into deep gloom by the announcement of the sudden death of the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, at one of his favorite spots in all the world - Warm Springs, in our own state of Georgia.
The announcement late yesterday afternoon of the sudden death of the President came like a bolt from a clear sky. Few people knew he was vacationing in Warm Springs and developments indicated that he had not been previously ill but passed away very suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage.
It is difficult for one to realize that this great American, perhaps the first citizen of the world, has passed so quickly from a world in which for many years he had played so conspicuous a role. Indeed it is difficult for us common mortals to grasp the situation confronting the universe at the passing of this sturdy statesman who for 12 long years has presided over the destinies of this - the greatest nation on God’s earth.
There is always a deep sorrow when men in high public station are called to their last reward; death is always associated with sadness, with sorrow and with heartbreak but in this particular case it passes understanding even to endeavor to comprehend why this great calamity should have been visited upon the world just at this particular time.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt occupied a most outstanding position in the stirring world events of this day. He had lived to prosecute the greatest war of all times almost to a victorious conclusion; five times he had attended conferences with Churchill and Stalin, not only planning for the speedy ending of the war but planning for even a more difficult task ahead in making the peace. His passing leaves a void in world affairs that will be most difficult to fill. His intimate knowledge of every detail of the war and of the innumerable and complex problems surrounding it are so multitudinous that we hesitate to understand how it will be possible for any one individual to take up and carry this great responsibility as did the President.
As poignant as is the grief of the devoted family of the President and of the American people at this tragedy, there are yet millions of others who are even more afflicted by this death, and they are the liberty-loving peoples of the world. People in every section of Christendom who believe in decency in government, in Christianity, in a devotion to mankind - all of these are bowed in deepest sorrow today that their great Chieftain has been killed in action, just as certainly and just as surely as any of Eisenhower’s soldiers who are falling on dozens of battlefields scattered all over the world. Finally, when we consider the life achievements of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from those early days of 1910 when he was elected from a strong Republican senatorial district in New York as a Democrat to the New York senate, then an outstanding service as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Wilson’s cabinet, finally to the governorship and then to the Presidency, we have some remote idea of what a tremendously busy life this one man has led.
The nation must and most assuredly will rally behind our new President, the Honorable Harry S. Truman, who loved and respected Franklin Roosevelt and consistently supported his domestic and war policies. There can be no doubt that these policies will be continued.
The death of our great leader, tragic though it be, cannot affect the outcome of the war. Today Allied forces are knocking at the very gates of Berlin. In a matter of weeks, perhaps days, the war in Europe will come to an end. Then it will be our united task and that of our Allies to crush the very heart of the Japanese enemy.
In bidding farewell to this beloved American citizen, we are more than persuaded that our people have the right to be gratified that he has written his name perhaps higher in the annals of American history than any other man who ever occupied the White House, and he brought to that office an understanding of the common people of the world. It was they whom he most desired to serve and Sunday they will lay a violet and a forget-me-not on a newly made mound in a tiny little cemetery lot in his beloved home at Hyde Park, which he loved so devotedly and where he first saw the light of day. may God bless the members of his family and may God bless his soul.
“A Great American Claimed by Death”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is dead!
Death claimed the thirty-first president of the United States in our own state of Georgia yesterday afternoon. He died, without pain, at the Little White House at Warm Springs, where he had been resting for several days.
The death of Mr. Roosevelt shocked the nation. It shocked the world!
Having served in the highest office in the land longer than any other president, Mr. Roosevelt was most certainly a casualty of the war in which all his sons are fighting and in which he had given magnificent leadership.
His close attention to the duties of his office during more than 12 years sapped his strength. His travels of many thousands of miles since the start of the war certainly had their effect upon his health. His most recent rip was to Yalta, where he conferred with Prime Minister Churchill and Premier Marshal Stalin. He had lost much weight in recent weeks, but the people of the nation were not prepared for the news of his sudden passing.
A great American is dead.
The statesmanship of Franklin D. Roosevelt will occupy a brilliant chapter in history.
Entering the office of president as the nation was confronted by its worst depression in its history, he closed the banks and quickly inaugurated measures for relief. His domestic programs during the years prior to the outbreak of World War No. 2 was known as the New Deal. It brought strong opposition, but the people of the United States nevertheless elected him to the presidency four times.
It was under the leadership of Mr. Roosevelt that this nation’s earnest preparation for war was commenced long before the United States actually entered the conflict. He was an arch enemy of isolationism and through his far-sightedness the lend-lease program was inaugurated with the result that Germany’s enemies received valuable assistance from America months before this country entered the war.
Mr. Roosevelt’s leadership throughout the war has been outstanding. He chose military and naval leaders whose conduct of this conflict has put the United States arms on the verge of victory.
The death of President Roosevelt came as our armies moved with certainty toward a victory in Europe which cannot be more than a few days away.
Into the presidency has stepped another man. Vice President Harry S. Truman, who was elected last fall, took the oath of office as it was administered by the Chief Justice of the United States.
The tasks before the new President are great; his responsibilities are many.
An ardent supporter of Mr. Roosevelt, he is expected to carry out his predecessor’s policies in virtually every particular. He has before him the the final winning of the European phase of the war in Europe, and after that Japan must be defeated. And when victory is won on the field of battle, there will then come the matter of winning the peace.
While Americans mourn the passing of a great President they should resolve to give their full support to the new President, who must have the unqualified backing of the people of this nation as he takes up the tasks which confront him.
The American people must remain firm in this hour of tragedy!
“His Country Will Live”
This is a moment for unutterable grief, and infinite faith.
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT slipped away from human contacts yesterday afternoon amidst the serene loveliness of his Pine Mountain home. After laboring wonderfully, he rests well. May God grant him peace.
It is hard for one who knew and loved this great American to know what to write today. Certainly it is no time for conventional words. Equally certainly, it is no time for despair, or for lessening by so much as a hairsbredth the mighty surge toward victory - in peace no less than war - for which FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT quite literally sacrificed his life.
What, anyway, is the experience called death?
Surely, this gentle drifting off into deep sleep of a mighty leader of men is not a sinister thing, and it must not be the sign for chaos; it is something far too tranquil and sweet for that.
Perhaps we should look upon this solemn event - awful and even terrifying in mortal eyes - as a symbol of the duty the rest of us owe to our country, and as a signal for other good men to shoulder the burdens and carry on, so that if Mr. ROOSEVELT should awake some day he would be able to smile and say: “Well done, my countrymen!”
There will be mourning, yes. Mourning deeply passionate, and sincere, because the spirit and courage and human understanding of FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT was something that common men had learned to love, and cling to. But there must be no fear in connection with his going to sleep, because it is only the frail, mortal body of him that is resting. His indomitable heart and irresistible strength are with us yet, and they will not perish.
Does Mr. ROOSEVELT’s passing produce a crisis? Will it leave everything uncertain and confused for a little while, with planning at loose ends?
Perhaps. But this is not America’s first sad and troubled moment, nor will it be her last. For as long as we belong to the family of men, we shall live and we shall die. We shall produce great leaders - and lose them. We shall see “irreplaceable” giants lay down the burden, and we shall replace them.
We said often last fall when the momentous question of the Fourth Term was the issue of the moment that it was a misuse of words to refer to Mr. ROOSEVELT as the “indispensable man,” because what would happen if he should die? Now he is dead, and - we shall find that he was not indispensable. He happened to be the best America had, and so we continued to require great services of him. But in our hearts all along we knew that if he should die our country would live, mainly because he had put together with matchless skill a trained and competent team, with the skill and courage and fortitude to carry on, even without the captain.
Thus today, with the mortal remains of FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT panoplied for the grave, it is not our mood to languish at his bier, or to weave bouquets of subtly fragrant words wherewith to eulogize his so recent memory.
We knew him. We loved him. We had faith in him.
We saw him conquer disease and smother pain.
We watched him become the 31st President at a moment when his country was writhing and tortured in the grip of a hideous fear, and it was then that there began to emerge the real stature of an American statesman, whose strength and weaknesses only history itself will ever adequately appraise.
This much can be said of him: He never knew the meaning of fear.
And it never even remotely occurred to him to give up, no matter how deep the trouble, or how fierce the odds.
Today, in death, he is still strong enough for his countrymen to lean upon, and - while it is not given us to understand the inscrutable ways of Divine wisdom - we cannot think of his passing as something which happened casually; it is bound to have a meaning, even if we cannot see it yet.
Perhaps one thing that Providence intended was to take a stern measure of those of us who are left; do we have the skill and wisdom and intense idealism with which to carry on? Are we worthy of survival?
We hope and believe that the answer will be “Yes!”
We shall be blind in spots; certainly we shall falter often. But the United States of America - your country and FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT’s country - will and must survive! More than that, it must march on to its triumphant destiny of world leadership, which he envisioned and did so much to implement.
It was at another distraught moment in our history - when the minds of men were sullen with terror and their hands almost numb - that FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT said to his countrymen: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Those were good words then, and they are even better now,because they have achieved the dignity of the tomb.
The President of the United States is dead!
The foremost figure in all the world sleeps now in the bosom of his Father, who loaned him for a while to a world torn with human hatreds, and dominated by the greed of those who would enslave it.
Upon the shoulders of Franklin Delano Roosevelt rested the greatest burdens ever borne by a single man; in his great heart burned a spirit that will never die - in his soul a light that will point the way for the millions who will walk the earth as free men.
World leadership was thrust upon the President by right of worth, and by virtue he has carried the shining symbol of democracy for all the world.
Today’s readers will soon forget the fulsome praise that writers throughout the earth are heaping upon the casket of the dead, but history will record and future generations will remember the man who set them free - Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
God rest his soul!
“President Franklin D. Roosevelt”
Announcement of the death of President Roosevelt comes as a shock to the American people whom he has served for twelve years as Chief Executive and a deep sorrow settles upon millions of hearts who held him in high esteem for what they regarded as a splendid example of world leadership, in spite of the physical handicaps under which he has labored for a large part of his public life.
The element of such stark tragedy has seldom surrounded the passing of any of the presidents of the republic from the days of Washington to the present time. Three times the assassin’s bullet has cut down the head of the nation in all the vigor of health and strength, but with the possible exception of President William Henry Harrison, the death of none of our chief executives, from natural causes, has come so unexpectedly.
Ever since his return from the South Carolina estate of Barney Baruch, where he spent many weeks of rest and recuperation, there have been varying accounts of his health. It was obvious from candid photographs that he was not the Roosevelt who entered office on March 4, 1933, and yet there was no reason to suppose, until the fatal news flashed across the country Thursday afternoon, that the end of his dynamic and epoch-making career was near.
The Romans had a proverb which urged us to speak nothing but good of the dead. In the immediate presence of the Dark Angel there could be no disposition on the part of the most flippant or cynical commentator to magnify the errors or minimize the finer impulses of a man who has made an enduring impression upon the history of his time.
Mr. Roosevelt entered the higher level of public life as assistant secretary of the Navy under Josephus Daniels in the administration of President Wilson. From his youth he had been interested in the naval branch of the service and perhaps until his death he was partial to blue water. At all events, it is conceded by all who have studied the record that his achievements in the Navy Department entitled him to the recognition which later came to him.
Even that solemnity which attends the hour and article of death does not require of any honest commentator that he stultify himself by pretending today that he admires the things he condemned yesterday, but it is still possible to assume that the worthiest of intentions actuated the President in the achievement of ends which he attained by doubtful means. As his spirit ascends to his Maker we may leave the issues of motives and their value to be weighed in the scales of an authority whose judgment we are not to question.
There will be universal agreement that Mr. Roosevelt displayed a courage and self-reliance seldom equalled by overcoming the infirmity which would have ended the active career of many other man. He had everything for which to live when the chilling waters of the New England coast developed that attack of infantile paralysis which left him practically helpless from his waist down. He had wealth and troops of friends. A man of less resolution would have allowed this sudden change in his physical condition to plunge him into the depths of desperation and despair.
On the contrary, Mr. Roosevelt made this infirmity the starting point for new achievement. The record is written in the years of service in the White House.
In letters equally clear is written the work he has done to save others, especially the children, from the blight of polio which has fallen upon so many of our people. The foundation built in his name and largely through his efforts to search out the cause of infantile paralysis and to provide treatment for the disease will remain to glorify his memory when much that was more spectacular in the social and economic world has become blurred or forgotten.
It was the President’s affliction which made him a resident of Georgia for many months at a time over a period of years. He was attracted to the healing waters of Warm Springs, the beneficial effects of which were reflected in his improved condition. There on Pine Mountain, buried among the green trees which surrounded the Little White House, he undoubtedly enjoyed many of the happiest days of his life. A delightful informality surrounded him in this quiet retreat where the humblest of local residents was as cordially welcomed as the imposing statesman and military leaders from many countries who beat a path to his door.
It was there, in the burgeoning of spring and lulled with the soft breezes of a Georgia April that he entered into rest.
Time alone can properly assess his place in history, but that he has exercised a profound influence on his native country and on the world cannot be doubted.
Aside from any general wish that he might have been spared to the full term of man’s allotted span, there is a special sorrow in realizing that the great conflict against the barbarious aggressors could not have been carried to culmination while he yet remained upon this bank and shoal of time. Perhaps his spirit looks down with satisfaction upon the naval and military leaders of his own choosing who are bringing the bloody drama to a close and, let us hope, as a prelude to an enduring peace.
“The Death of Mr. Roosevelt”
Since under the providence of God the time of his departure had arrived, it was fitting that Franklin Delano Roosevelt should quit the scene in the little town of Warm Springs, Georgia, which not only symbolizes his humanitarianism but will remain a perpetual reminder of his heroism in facing triumphantly a great physical handicap.
Never before did any man climb so high under the weight of an affliction so pronounced, and what he achieved in the face of the affliction he bore, will long be an inspiration to all who are burdened with abnormal handicaps.
To the thousands of soldiers who return broken in body or crippled in limb, the heroic way in which Franklin D. Roosevelt faced his physical affliction will stand as an inspiration and a challenge. To all observers he will remain a symbol of high courage, just as the Foundation he established at Warm Springs, will remain a symbol of sympathetic consideration of others.
And it may be said in all truth that such symbols never before were so sorely needed as a stricken World faces conditions of unprecedented affliction.
A fearful and troubled World also may find inspiration and encouragement and a higher order of faith in the title of one of the favorite songs of Mr. Roosevelt. In many a church service he joined in singing ‘God is Working His Purposes Out’ and the very fact that it became one of his favorite songs of worship reveals the nature of his faith in the purposes of God.
Many are appalled, many are fearful, many are filled with doubts in the face of this loss, coming at a time when the World is engaged in a mighty struggle, yet all may find hope and courage and faith in this phrase, so often repeated by Mr. Roosevelt, ‘God is Working His Purposes Out.’
“At Home and Abroad”
Throughout the land and from across the seas tributes are being paid to the late President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. At home newspapers, North, East, West and South, bespeak the sorrow at his passing and from England comes a touching example of the regard in which he was held by his friends of freedom everywhere. Editorials in the press of the United States say of him:
New York Times: “Men will thank God on their knees a hundred years from now that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House…In that dark hour when a powerful and ruthless barbarism threatened to overrun the western world.”
New York Tribune: “The staggering shock with which yesterday’s news came to an entire nation - and to a world beyond the nation - is the best measure of the place which Franklin Delano Roosevelt had made for himself in the history of the American people. There was no one, of whatever party or persuasion, who did not feel in the first instant that a gallant figure had been snatched suddenly from our common life.”
Chicago Tribune: “President Roosevelt is dead and the whole nation is plunged into mourning, those who opposed him in politics no less than those who followed him.
His successor, President Truman, inherits an immense task at a difficult hour. He will receive the loyal support of all of us.”
Chicago Sun: “Our great and beloved president has laid down his life for victory, decency and peace. No other statesman in this epic period of crisis for mankind had equaled him in the art of co-operation, and of leading others to it. He was the President of the forgotten man and of all men.”
Atlanta Constitution: “The nation and the world have indeed sustained a stunning loss. But the tragic sorrow which is ours today must serve to strengthen our determination that the cause which he led and the ideas for which he fought will be attained.”
Los Angeles Times: “Not only this country but the entire world has suffered a grievous loss in the sudden passing of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt…
Since the President in his long years in office had come to tower so above the other members of his administration, the task now falling to his successor will be increasingly great. But the years Truman spent in the United States Senate since 1934 should stand him in good stead…”
San Francisco Chronicle: ” We believe history, looking to the big things, will judge Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a great American, a courageous fighter for civilization, a great citizen of the world.”
Across the Atlantic the British House of Commons adjourned today immediately after its members had assembled out of respect for President Roosevelt. Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced “the grievous news from across the Atlantic - the loss of the famous President whose friendship, the cause of freedom and the causes of the weak and poor won him immortal reknown.” The Prime Minister said: “It is not fitting that we should continue our work this day but that we immediately adjourn as a token of respect to the memory of this great departed statesman.”
Within the rising of the setting of the sun the United States of America has had two presidents. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president for more than twelve years, has been removed from office suddenly by death, and Harry S. Truman, vice-president and former senator, has taken the oath to become the 32nd chief executive of this great nation.
What many had feared for months has happened, the stresses and strains of the wartorn world have proved too much for the President who bore them in a manner that evidenced complete disregard of self, and a cerebral hemorrhage, that messenger of death who comes with lightning swiftness and often without warnings that medical science can detect, has carried him off. The end came when President Roosevelt was about to witness the great military triumph of his country and its allies over the forces of evil, a triumph in which his was a leading part. The pity tis he could not be here to see the victory.
The ages will write the epitaph of President Roosevelt. Those now living are too close to the man and to the events to appraise them objectively; too mixed in our time were the two aspects of his administrations, those relating to domestic affairs and those dealing with international policy, to permit evaluation each in its proper place. A greater personality than his had not been felt in public life in modern years and President Roosevelt had a way with people that gave him the topmost rank among those who could sway his fellow-men. History must record this man as an outstanding figure of his age, and his successful leadership of the nation against two powerful enemies and the course toward lasting peace he was charting will be written for all time to come as accomplishments embodying at once the immediate goal and the ultimate hope of all our people. In his greatest responsibility he did a great job, and to him go the thanks of a grateful country, a country which sorrows that he leaves the world scene before he could relax and see for himself the consummation of a task well begun.
In becoming our Chief Executive, President Truman faces the most stupendous responsibility ever confronted by a single man. There are those, and we were among them, who were apprehensive when Senator Truman was nominated as Vice President to complete the ticket headed by President Roosevelt. To dwell on that now would be unfitting and unfair to the new President. He is going to need the help, the support and the prayers of every American. The war and the peace are yet to be won, and to this President Truman devotes himself from the very minute that echoed his taking of the oath of office. He has an awesome responsibility and an unlimited opportunity. In him now rests the leadership to pilot a united country into years that will be fruitful and peaceful. Dispatches from Washington tell us he faces the future humbly but confident. Calling on the governmental experience that was his as a senator and sustained by the greatness of the hour, he sets his hand to the work on which so much depends. For the new President pray that God grants him the wisdom, the light and the fortitude to move unerringly along the path, whatever may be its difficulties, that will lead to early and continuous peace and to the return, there to stay, of loved ones now far from their hearthsides.
“Onward to Victory”
The news from the battle fronts which yesterday engaged the undivided attention of the nation, is today shared, if not indeed overshadowed, by the sudden passing of President Roosevelt. But even as the armies in the field share with the folk at home the sorrow at the death of the chief executive of this nation, the fighting goes on closer to that victory now believed so near in Europe.
Spectacular Allied successes continue to be reported and American spearheads have knifed to less than 60 miles to Berlin.
The victory, says the International News Service, for which the late President gave his life never seemed nearer than today as three United States armies - the First, the Third and the Ninth - raced on toward the German capital over a wide front.
Beyond front line dispatches that the U.S. Ninth Army, commanded by Lieut. Gen. William H. Simpson, had crossed the Elbe River, last great barrier before Berlin, there was no late word on the gap separating the Americans from their goal.
Russian armies threatening the German capital were reported by the Moscow radio to be again in action, foreshadowing a possible linkup of American and Soviet forces. Such a combined drive would split Germany in two.
One of the early acts of President Truman will probably be to receive and announce the declaration of the end of organized resistance in Germany.
“Franklin Delano Roosevelt”
The major questions raised by President Roosevelt’s untimely death at Warm Springs yesterday afternoon are threefold:
One. What effect, if any, will it have on the prosecution of the war against Germany and Japan?
Two. What effect will it have on this country’s part in forming a world peace organization in San Francisco?
Three. What will be its consequences in regard to the solution of America’s domestic problems after the war?
Time alone will unfold the answers - and the American people, regardless of their political affiliations will hope and pray that Mr. Roosevelt’s successor, whatever may have been his political background, and his political record, will measure up to the gigantic tasks that lie ahead of him.
Thoughtful Americans everywhere will deeply regret that President Roosevelt did not live to see the war against the Axis prosecuted to a successful finish and that he was not ordained to continue in office long enough to see an effective United Nations organization established along the lines which he had advocated and which he had helped to initiate.
Death overtook him at one of his favored spots - Warm Springs, Ga. - where he made it possible for thousands of youngsters to fight the dread disease which had inflicted him.
It can truly be said of him that he was a man of courage and that he possessed a personality which made him popular wherever he went. Possessed of one of America’s best speaking voices, his whole being displayed a radiance that captivated his hearers.
His passing is a tremendous shock at this critical hour in our history.
No newspaper in the country was more critical than the Morning News of the fact that the New Deal ticket gave second place to Harry S. Truman in the 1944 election campaign, but this is no time to be querulous about the past. The problems of the future are too critical for any individual, group or journal of opinion to advance an “I-told-you-so” or to dwell upon past national mistakes.
Conflicting opinions have come out of Washington at this writing as to whether or not the San Francisco conference will be postponed. Senator Connally of Texas, an American delegate, says it may be delayed, but a State Department announcement insists that it will be held as scheduled on April 25.
Thoughtful Americans of all political complexions are naturally wondering whether or not the cabinet will be changed and how and to what extent. They will earnestly hope that Secretary of State Stettinius will be retained for the simple reason that he knows the foreign policies of Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Cordell Hull. He was present at the Yalta conference where all the plans for the defeat of the Axis and for the San Francisco meeting were worked out, and he is fully conversant with Mr. Roosevelt’s and Prime Minister Churchill’s and Marshal Stalin’s attitudes on international problems and especially with whatever understandings they had with the late chief executive.
Mr. Truman, no doubt, will make new appointments, possibly to the Postmaster General’s portfolio and to the post of Attorney General. He is likely to name a new Secretary of Labor. But, he would be making a serious mistake if he should attempt to replace Mr. Stettinius.
The War and Navy Departments have worked so well under Messrs. Stimson and Forrestal, and the present military and naval chiefs of staff have done their jobs so well that it is not likely that the new President will disturb those posts, certainly not as long as the war continues.
President Truman will serve a full four-year term, minus a little more than two months, so that he, who ten years ago was merely a county judge in Missouri, will be confronted with the greatest political, social and economic problems that any chief executive has ever faced in the republic’s history.
He will need our prayers, and as long as he follows the paths of honesty and efficiency, he will deserve our support.
God willing, he will surround himself with the best brains and energies the nation possesses in his task of meeting the large number of perplexing demands, here and abroad, which will be made upon the United States in the immediate months and years ahead.