Harry S. Truman photo

Address at the Dedication of the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a National Shrine.

April 12, 1946

Mrs. Roosevelt, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

We stand in reverence at this hallowed spot consecrated to the memory of a great American who has become a great citizen of the world. We stand here in solemn tribute. All over the globe, plain people join with leaders and statesmen in recognition that it was largely because of him that civilization has survived. Only history can do him full justice.

The loss which America suffered through the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt cannot be softened by the spoken word. Tributes can only emphasize our loss. But those of us who have survived him in the seat of government can pay homage to his memory by our deeds.

The progressive and humane principles of the New Deal embodied the great hope which in an hour of extreme crisis President Roosevelt gave to the American people. As carried out in practice, the New Deal became the realization of that hope. It was a recognition of the basic truth that this Government exists not for the benefit of a privileged few but for the welfare of all the people.

Those principles and their execution in practice have today become an accepted part of our way of life. When an employee joins a union, when an investor buys a share of stock, when a man buys a house or a farm on credit, when he puts money in the bank, or grows and sells his crops, or gets cheap electricity, when he lays aside part of income for unemployment or old age insurance, those principles are right there by him--and on his side.

These same principles apply to assuring full production and fulfilment, legislation for a health program, a social security program, an educational program, a program to provide emergency housing for veterans and to solve the long-range problem of decent homes for all Americans. These and other progressive measures stem from the principles for which president Roosevelt fought, for which we, who are carrying on after him, now fight, and for which we shall continue to fight.

In the foreign field, President Roosevelt's guiding thought was that this Nation as a good neighbor must play an active, intelligent, and constructive part in world affairs. He saw clearly that we cannot continue to live isolated from other nations. He knew that what happens on other continents must affect the welfare of our country.

He recognized, above all, that our hope for the future of civilization, for the future of life itself, lay in the success of the United Nations. He not only recognized these truths. He determined to do something about them. And he did.

His foreign policy called for fair, sympathetic, and firm dealing with the other members of the family of nations. At the same time, it recognized our obligations to the starving and homeless of other lands. It recognized the solemn duty of this country toward nations which have been weakened in the death struggle against tyranny.

For these principles of international coo operation, we are determined to fight with all our strength. We are determined to do all within our power to make the United Nations a strong living organization; to find effective means of alleviating suffering and distress; to deal fairly with all nations. These principles were the basis of the foreign policy under Franklin D. Roosevelt. They are still the basis of our foreign policy.

In the aftermath of a global war the overall task is difficult. But it can be simply stated: it is to carry forward the underlying principles and policies, foreign and domestic, of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Changes may be required here and there to meet changing conditions. Fundamentally the objectives are the same.

We are here not only to do honor to the immortal spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt. We are here to gain strength for what is ahead--to gain it from the inspiration of his deeds, from the inspiration of the humane principles which brought them to pass.

Here, where he was born, in the spot which he loved best in the world, he is now at rest. We shall not soon see his like again.

May Almighty God, who has watched over this Republic as it grew from weakness to strength, give us the wisdom to carry on in the way of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Note: The President spoke from the portico of the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park, N.Y., at 2:45 p.m. at a ceremony which marked the first anniversary of the death of President Roosevelt. Among those present, in addition to Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, were: Newton B. Drury, Director of the National Park Service and Chairman of the ceremonies; Paul E. Fitzpatrick, chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee, and Julius A. Krug, Secretary of the Interior. The address was carried on a nationwide radio broadcast.

Harry S Truman, Address at the Dedication of the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a National Shrine. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232774

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