Franklin D. Roosevelt

Statement on Leif Ericson Day (October 9).

September 23, 1940

EVERY stout heart that has advanced the frontiers of human knowledge by exploration has been accompanied, at sea or through jungles or across the polar wilderness, by destiny as an unseen fellow wayfarer. Each thrust forward into unknown regions has resulted in the advancement not alone of material welfare but also of the kingdom of the mind.

The brave adventure of Leif Ericson and his stalwart followers, almost a thousand years ago, was destined to open the path to a new world bountifully endowed by nature.

In time, the seed of history that Leif Ericson had planted bore fruit. Another explorer, also a vehicle of destiny, was courageous in his faith that land lay westward and sailed on until he reached a continent where new vistas of history could be dimly seen by men of vision and foresight.

The strange and unknown land, upon which Leif the son of Eric is said to have been the first European to set foot, was to have a long tomorrow of progress. Inheriting and cherishing the best of what the old world had to contribute, the Western Hemisphere has promoted and developed the precepts of democratic living and representative Government.

I suggest that on October 9 as many of our citizens as can possibly do so visit a near-by library or avail themselves of an encyclopedia or historical work at home, and re-read the thrilling tale of the voyage of Leif Ericson. I also suggest that teachers of history, as well as newspapers and magazines, cooperate in bringing to mind once more our debt to the Norse explorers.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on Leif Ericson Day (October 9). Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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