Katrina vanden Heuvel: This Election Day, Honor FDR's Principles





Katrina vanden Heuvel writes a weekly column for The Post.

On Jan. 6, 1941, as Nazi Germany tightened its cruel grip on Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his annual State of the Union address. He acknowledged the terrible costs of war and argued that the sacrifice would be accepted by future generations only if it led to a newer, better world for all people everywhere, a world based on the four human freedoms central to democracy — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
 
They were, in his view, fundamental American values, and an antidote to the poison of growing tyranny. Three years later, in his 1944 State of the Union address, Roosevelt translated those values into what became known as the “Economic Bill of Rights” — an uncompromising articulation of economic security as a condition of individual freedom.
 
Today, these principles are embodied by the pure and simple lines, etched in grass, stone and light, of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park, the great architect’s memorial to Roosevelt that opened last month in New York. Kahn’s extraordinary vision was at last realized, almost 40 years after his death, on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, thanks in no small part to dedicated supporters including my father, Ambassador William vanden Heuvel, who fought tirelessly to make Kahn’s dream a reality in our time.
 
The New York Times called the park the city’s “new spiritual heart.” But it is also is a living symbol of those enduring values Roosevelt spoke of 70 years ago — a reminder of what those fundamental freedoms have meant to the lives of everyday Americans, and to the everyday life of America...


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