Thank You Brian Williams
Thank you Brian Williams for reminding me (and the MSNBC world at large) about the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on April 12, 1945 at the height of World War II. As a child, I heard this news when it happened from the bigger kids on the street, where I got most of my secret information. The news shook my world and, to this day, I have an indelible picture in my mind’s photo album of that street scene … along with pictures of the twin towers bursting into flames and the assassination of President Kennedy.
Why relive these scariest of times? It the same reason we retell the Story of Passover and the Story of Easter. To remember and to inform the future.
During those war years, my parents sat close to the huge mahogany radio in our living room listening intensely for any possible victory. Mother was one of the few ladies in our neighborhood who went to work every day. That’s why we had a nanny. The nanny was of German background. We called her, as she wished, “Fraulein.” In hushed tones, “Fraulein” would daily assure my mother that when (not if) the Germans came to America, she would hide my brother and me on her upstate farm. Our home was in the Rockaways, blocks away from the Atlantic Ocean, which was rumored to be the arrival port for Hitler’s submarines. My father was an Air Raid Warden. He and the other men would roam the beaches at night to signal any arriving armies. Sadly, the beaches we loved to play on had new and terrible meaning. Children were issued dog tags and they learned to hide under their desks in case of a bombing.
Some believe that Roosevelt hid his illness from the public for many years as the war raged on. He was the guy who told us that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But our fears became urgent when he died. He was the man who was supposed to make the world safe for democracy. Those of us who grew up frightened about the death of a president understood the need to know about Hillary’s and The Donald’s health records. Had we known about FDR’s health, would it have changed history? We will never know, but thank you MSNBC for reminding us.