Tag Archive | "Franklin Delano Roosevelt"

He Had a Dream

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After World War I, America experienced a period of time when the country was riding high.  It was called the Roaring Twenties. Prohibition had been enacted, drying up the source of liquor to the general populace.  To the rescue came the bootleggers to fill the void.  Fast money and fast women were on the rise.  Even the stock market expanded its sales by allowing small investors to buy on margin and thus attempt to achieve financial wealth.  This period of plenty lasted more than a decade, until October 1928.  On that fateful October day, Wall Street experienced a financial disaster.


Investors woke up one morning to find that their financial gains had gone with the wind. This was the cataclysm that sent America into the Great Depression.  The President Elect, Herbert Hoover, tried to quell the panic by treating the crash as a market correction.  He did not intervene in the process, but as time passed, the situation worsened.


Ordinary Americans found themselves not able to meet the demands of everyday life.  They looked to government to supply the answers, causing general unrest in the population, which then selected Franklin D. Roosevelt to replace Hoover in the next Presidential election.


When FDR assumed Presidential power, he knew he had the tiger by the tail and could not let go.  A Wall street market correction was not the answer.  A change in governmental policy was imminent.  To address the nation’s problems on a systemic basis, FDR consulted with leading economists as to the cause of our financial collapse.  In addition, he and his advisors had to institute preventive measures to restore the trust of the populace in a system that aspired to restore order in the country.


In FDR’s first few years in office, the country had witnessed massive unemployment.  Industrial production had declined by 45%, homebuilding sank by 80%, and more than 1 million families lost their farms. On the corporate front, profits declined by 10%.  11,000 of the country’s 25,000 banks failed, wiping out 9 million savings accounts.  At the same time, approximately 2 million people were migrating throughout the country, desperately searching for work on the remaining farms.


In 1933, Roosevelt’s administration initiated The New Deal or NRA, bringing sweeping changes to the workforce as well as banking and financial institutions.  Wage and price controls and the FDIC restored the nation’s trust in banking.  That trust was bolstered by the installation of the SEC as the governmental watchdog of the banking industry.  These were the moves that we needed to re-establish the order and move forward.


The President was a firm believer in the principle that the economy was based upon the spending power of its people.  With that in mind, he instituted the WPA to bring “shovel-ready” jobs to the unemployed.  These jobs, in turn, supplied consumer money to encourage entrepreneurs and business to expand their horizons.


The NRA that ended in 1939 ushered in:


1.       The mandating of maximums on prices and wages, and competitive conditions in all industries

2.       Encouragement of unions to raise the wages of working class by 93%

3.       A decrease in farm production, thus escalating consumer demand and causing higher prices to make

          farming more profitable


In the later years of the Depression (1934 to 1936), the Second New Deal added Social Security.  This was a pension fund established by a Federal directive and paid for by the American workforce.


The economy slowly recovered until 1937, when it had a downturn caused by the Federal Reserve tightening the money supply.  The Administration’s response was to ignore balancing the budget and launch a $5 billion spending program to increase mass purchasing power in the spring of 1938.


This program came without the consent of the Republican conservatives. Meanwhile, under the direction of Adolph Hitler, Germany decided to expand its borders.  This decision on the part of that madman sparked World War II.  With the defeat and occupation of France, European Allies looked to America to supply the materials needed to wage war.  This need created a job market that spurred on our the suffering economy.


With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II.  Able bodied men aged 18 to 45 were conscripted into the armed services, leaving women to step in and assume the jobs of the men sent off to war, ’til Johnny came marching home.  From 1941 through 1945, America had drafted 17 million men.


During the war years, government invested in cost-plus contracts with  employers, to stimulate development of on the job training of unskilled workers.  By 1942, the New Deal no longer existed.  With the exception of Social Security, which was saved by the conservative Southern Democrats, the NRA laws were repealed.


Today, historians still debate the pros and cons of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.  Despite the criticism of socialism, his legacy led America through the Great Depression and World War II, and endeared him to the hearts of most American workers.


During his four elected terms of office, he used the media to talk to the American people in what he called Fireside Chats.  His was the calming voice in the depths of the Great Depression.  His was the rallying voice when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  And his was the reverent voice when he called our nation to prayer on June 6th 1944 as our sons crossed the English Channel to establish a beachhead on France’s Normandy coast, leading to the liberation of France and the destruction of Hitler’s Europe.


On April 12th 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away, not knowing that victory was but a few short months off into the future.  However, his dream still lingers on, the dream of a vibrant society empowered by the spending power of its people to keep the engines of industry regenerating.


To many of the children that lived through the Great Depression and later fought and won World War II, that era still holds fond memories of peaceful days spent enjoying family and friends. It was a time when a penny purchased two pretzels with mustard from a street vendor.  To echo the words of former President George H. Bush, “Life was simpler and kinder then.” 

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

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The title of this story reflects a popular song that emerged during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  It was Tin Pan Alley’s way of advertising the plight of the American people during times of intense hardship.


In 1932, composer Jay Gorney and lyricist E.Y. Harburg combined their creative forces to deliver a song that struck at the heart of every man, woman, and child.  Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? became the heartbeat of the nation.  When the Stock Market crashed, many people lost their jobs, initiating a domino effect.  Without money, everything — like the old South — was gone with the wind.  Americans were devastated.  They lost faith in the government as well as the banks that had collapsed and taken depositors’ hard-earned money with them.  A lot of human suffering occurred with no safety net for the future, until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected.


Succeeding President Herbert Hoover, FDR was burdened with the monumental task of restoring the country to solvency and resurrecting the nation’s faith in its lawmakers and banking institutions.  He began with by creating the NRA (National Recovery Act).  When that was declared unconstitutional, he replaced it with The New Deal.  Understanding that the economy hinged upon the spending power of the people, the President then organized the WPA (Works Projects Administration – originally named Works Progress Administration) to bring jobs back to the rapidly sinking economy. He also instituted the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), a paramilitary organization that took young men off the streets and employed them to restore public works.


To revive faith in the banking system, he introduced the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), which insured depositor monies up to $100,000 dollars.  As a failsafe, he established the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) to monitor and regulate the financial markets and financial activity that had spawned the Great Depression.


In addition, FDR introduced the Social Security system, mandating the age of retirement as 65. By allowing younger people to fill the jobs of the retirees, the nation was assured of continuous source of employment.  Social Security would later become the model retirement system because it had the lowest administrative costs in the world.  After all his diligence, the Great Depression ended with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.


The fly in Social Security’s ointment, however, was this.  The monies collected for Social Security from the paychecks of future retirees, and intended to sustain people through their retirement, was placed into a general fund.  Into this fund, the government dipped its greedy hands again and again.  How many times have you heard present-day politicians say that there is no money in the fund, only IOUs.  Who do you think “borrowed” this money?  FDR must be turning over in his grave.


In retrospect, the differences between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession begun in 2008 are that, in the ’30s:


1.  There was no government bailout of Wall Street.

2.  The Gold Standard regulated the amount of money that could be printed.

3.  Banks were more stringent in their lending policies.

4.  There was no credit card system to create escalating debt.

5.  Few people had health insurance.

6.  There was no charge for listening to the radio.

7.  Movie houses provided incentives, such as dishware, to increase patronage.

8.  There was no air conditioning in homes.

9.  Telephone service existed only through the local drugstore, at pay phones.


Overall, money was tight and life was simpler.  People used public transportation to travel.  Those of us who remember the Great Depression survived it and became stronger for it.


The old Depression songs, Brother, Can you spare a dime?,  Ain’t We Got Fun, and No More Money in the Bank still ring in my ears.  It was a time when chivalry, faith, hope, and charity still existed, and the pleasures of life were found not in fancy cars or expensive vacations, but in the company of family and friends.  No wonder we call them “the good old times.”


 

 

 

Shovel Ready

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Adopted by individual voters and political groups alike, the term “shovel ready” graphically illustrates our national chomping at the bit to get off the unemployment line and start earning decent wages again.  Widely used during our most recent primary elections, the phrase actually was coined during our previous Great Depression, under FDR’s administration. 


After the collapse of Wall Street, in 1932, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the National Rcovery Act to resurrect employment.  Considered un-Constitutional, one year later, the act was renamed The New Deal and included the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) and the WPA (Works Project Administration).  Established to produce jobs and put money back into taxpayer’ pockets, both entities were formed to repair the nation’s physical infrastructure: roads, bridges, parks, and highways.


The CCC was a para-military organization designed to take young men off the street and keep them out of trouble by employing them for projects such as Virginia’s Skyline Drive.  As in the Army, the workers lived in barracks and were fed three meals a day.  The WPA provided employment for older, married men via labor for governmental projects.  When the media inquired as to their exact duties, workers were quoted as saying, “I lean on a shovel.”  In other words, these jobs did little or nothing to resolve the unemployment crisis.  And if rampant unemployment wasn’t a big enough cross to bear, Mother Nature added to our national misery with droughts and dust storms.


Perceiving the Great Depression as Biblical peoples must have viewed the plagues, some Americans deemed our fate “the wrath of God.”  They’d assumed that we were reaping Divine retribution for the indulgences of the Roaring Twenty’s.


Nearly seventy years later, President Obama atempted to tear a page out of FDR’s book with his economic stimulus plan.   He also sent up a hue and cry for “shovel ready jobs.”  Our fearless leader was referring to jobs in which workers could be employed immediately, as opposed to being assigned to projects that are bogged down in planning, design, or legal red tape.


As well-intentioned as Mr. Obama may be, there remain some glaring differences between the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the Great Recession (Depression?) of 2008.   When Wall Street crumbled in 1929, the government did not — unlike Mr. Obama’s adminstration — bail out the financial institutions to the tune of $710 billion.  In fact, the governnment gave these institutions not one red cent.


In the 1930’s, there were also more shovel ready jobs — a lot more.  A road gang could easily have consisted of 300 or more workers, simply because technology was not as advanced as it is today.  Nowadays, it takes a virtual skeleton crew using state-of-the-art machinery to produce quality roadways more quickly and cheaply.  As automation continues to replace human labor, what are our children’s and grandchildren’s places in the American workforce?  Will our descendents compete with machines and slave labor in a global society?  We need answers to these questions before this or the next administration crafts another stimulus program.


Parents should seriously consider the best investments in their children’s education.  Should tuition money be paid to colleges and universities, or should it be paid to vocational schools?  Our current government seems willing to make our children common laborers by way of shovel ready jobs. I suppose this strategy is more expedient than creating jobs that require real skill and intelligence, jobs that can make them self-sufficient and in turn, restore America to a state of prosperity.


A common laborer does not require a college education.  All he or she needs is a strong back and some muscle.  In pondering this, let us not forget the wise motto of the United Negro College Fund, which can and should be applied to citizens of all races:  “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” 

Rewriting History

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The Constitution of the United States of America was composed after much consideration and strife with our mother country, England.   It was written to elucidate and safeguard the truths our founding fathers deemed self-evident; these were the rights granted to every man, woman, and child by the grace of God. In creating the Constitution, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and their worthy colleagues sought to craft a document that would stand the passage of time.


Although the document emphasized centralization (federalization) of our new government, it included provisions to safeguard the rights of the individual States and for the separation of Church and State: a condition that guaranteed American citizens the right to practice their religion without fear of persecution.  This freedom distinguished our nation from others and became a beacon of hope to those experiencing religious oppression in their own countries.


From the moment of our nation’s birth, George Washington and every successive leader has made reference to God in governing and protecting our land.  Religious symbols and terminology were always invoked in swearing parties into public office and demanding that witnesses speak the truth in courts of law.  Every denomination of our currency carries the words, “In God We Trust.”   These things echoed the underlying tenets of the Constitution:  that every citizen and lawmaker is held to a higher authority.


The Constitution was designed to be shaped, interpreted, and modified to protect our citizens against threats both within and without our borders.  Yet, our Founding Fathers could not have foreseen the magnitude of change we have experienced as a nation evolving over more than two hundred years.  Now, interpretation of the Constitution is left to the best or perhaps the most powerful (i.e., moneyed) legal minds in the nation, also known as the Supreme Court.  Their decisions are final.  The phrase “Who died and made you God?” is particularly apt, for God has ceased being the Higher Authority in this nation.  Indeed, He has ceased to be, because right or wrong, We the People have to live with the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court. 


Did our Founding Fathers gaze into a crystal ball when crafting the Constitution?  Could they have envisioned the issue of abortion when they sought to separate Church from State?  Did they prophesize the tug of war fought to display/not display religious symbols on public property?  Or, did they mean to simply guarantee religious freedom to our citizens?  You do not have to be a Supreme Court Judge to answer these questions.


In defending our country from its enemies, we find God being written out of our history. Although engraved onto the World War II National Memorial, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Day speech has been politically corrected.  Many current references to this speech eliminate FDR’s heartfelt words, “So help us God.”


Christ has been removed from Christmas, for Christmas has been amended to The Holiday Season, Happy Holidays, or Winter Break.  Religious symbols are verboten in governmental structures; prayer was banned in public schools in the early 1960’s.  All of this was done under the guise of separating Church from State.  So, how does religious freedom fit in a Godless country that still professes to be the greatest democracy in the world?


The Bible states that God set forth a set of laws by which man was compelled to live.  The Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses on two stone tablets.  Containing not a single amendment, they serve as the basis of our own laws (“Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” etc.).  Whereas our legal system is convoluted and often confusing, God managed to cover all the bases with but Ten Commandments.  I guess that’s why we call Him God!


Do you want to continue to write God out of our history and ensure that he is omitted for future generations?  If not, contact your Congressman or Congresswoman to demand that God is re-instituted.  While you’re at it, say a prayer.  Ask God’s help to give our leaders the wisdom they need to lead us properly through a society that worships The Almighty Dollar instead of a truly Higher Authority. 

D-Day: A Day I Will Never Forget

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It’s hard to believe that the most famous battles of World War II took place on June 6th, sixty-six years ago.  I was 17 years old that day, and contributing to the war effort.  A tad too young to see active duty, I served as an electrician’s helper at the Philadelphia Naval shipyard, where I constructed and repaired ships for the U.S. Navy.  After the battleship Wisconsin, the aircraft carrier Antietam, and six destroyer escorts were built and launched, Uncle Sam called me to duty.  Although drafted, I never fired a single shot.  I became part of a peacekeeping/stabilizing mission in Japan once that nation had surrendered to the Allied Forces.  What took place on D-Day turned the tide in the Allies’ favor and kept me safe from harm.  You can understand, then, why the facts surrounding this celebrated battle remain fresh in my mind after so many years.


For more than a year leading up to D-Day, American troops were gathering in England.  On a tiny island bulging with men and machines of war, our forces prepared to open a second front in Europe.  By then, Hitler’s armies had conquered most of Western Europe, including France; they were spreading east, eying Moscow will ill intent.  Anticipating an attack by the Allies but not knowing exactly when we would strike, Hitler directed his forces to build the Atlantic Wall.  The leader of the Third Reich was convinced that the Allies would take the shortest route across the English Channel, via the Pas-de-Calais. Vigorously, Hitler’s men shored up for the onslaught with backup infantry and armored forces.


Aware of the enemy’s plan as well as his logical assumption concerning Pas-de-Calais, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces, selected a different route in order to surprise Hitler.  Ike chose to send the Allied troops through Normandy, France, but severe weather postponed the attack several times.  Finally, Eisenhower’s key meteorologist, Group Captain J. M. Stagg, discovered that there would be a brief improvement in the weather on June 6, 1944; quickly, he informed General Eisenhower.  Although not every military leader involved in the invasion agreed, Ike determined to strike during that small window of opportunity.  He took full responsibility in launching an attack the like of which the world had never seen.


Before dawn, on June 6, 1944, 5,000 thousand ships, 11,000 airplanes, and more than 150,000 troops crossed the English Channel. The greatest armada ever assembled landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to engage in heavy battle.  Over 4,000 Allied soldiers died that day and another 10,000 were wounded, but the rest soldiered on bravely.  Finally, the Allies secured a beachhead on Fortress Europe.  Less than a year later, on May 7th, 1945 Hitler’s Germany surrendered unconditionally.  On May 8th, victory in Europe was declared.


Beloved Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only U.S. President to serve four terms in office, died three short weeks before Hitler’s surrender.  He never experienced the victory in Europe, but he left a legacy that few presidents have matched.


His first term took place from 1933 to 1937.  Television had yet to be invented to lure in the masses, but FDR drew millions of people time and again to gather around their radios.  During his Fireside Chats, his was the voice that calmed and uplifted a nation suffering through the Great Depression.


His second term spanned 1937 to 1941.  On December 7, 1941, FDR’s voice once again rallied the nation when he declared that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th, 1941.


During his third term (1941 to 1945), he summoned America reverently with his D-Day Prayer on June 6th, 1944.


Serving his fourth term and suffering from hypertension and cardiac disease, God called Franklin Delano Roosevelt home.  On April 12, 1945, the voice that had weathered both national and personal crises was silenced.  Involved in politics more than two decades earlier, FDR had contracted polio, but few Americans were aware of this, for the future 32nd President of the United States had conscripted the press into a conspiracy.  He had asked to the press to photograph him only from the waist up to disguise his wheelchair, and to maintain their silence as to the illness that had put him there.  Once he had achieved Presidency, he continued this policy in order to appear strong for the nation that had relied so heavily upon his wisdom and leadership.


Understanding that heavy casualties were expected on that Normandy beach, FDR prepared a D-Day prayer to help ease the pain of those about to lose their loved ones.   He entitled it, Let Our Hearts Be Stout.


As I recall this prayer, I feel that President Roosevelt wrote it not only for the families of the soldiers who perished at Normandy but for a world that, sixty-six years later, has still not learned to resolve its differences peacefully.


Using the broadcast media of his day, radio, FDR stated “Last night when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the English Channel.  It has come to pass with success thus far, and so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.”

  

What followed was the text of FDR’s prayer:


“Almighty God, our sons, the pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, to set free a suffering humanity.

 

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness to their faith.

 

They will need Thy blessings.  They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest until the victory is won.  The darkness will be rent by noise and flame.  Men’s souls will be shaken with the violence of war, for these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace.

 

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.  They fight to let justice arise, and for tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people.  They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

 

Some will never return.  Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

 

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

 

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

 

Amen.”

A Pearl Harbor Day Apology

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Pearl Harbor Day

The island of Oahu, in Hawaii’s archipelago, is a paradise of flowering trees, warm ocean breezes, and pristine beaches.  But its bay, Pearl Harbor, is testimony to one of the blackest and yet most commemorated days in American History.  On December 7, 1941, the harbor, which was home to our naval vessels and military personnel, was destroyed.  Thus were we plunged into the four-year international conflict known as World War II that claimed the lives of many American soldiers.  Christened “a date which will live in infamy” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor Day was established to honor those brave souls, our military, who perished in the holocaust in Oahu’s bay.

 

More than sixty-seven years have passed since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and each year, it seems that our nation’s collective memory of this momentous event grows ever dimmer.  There are, however, a few of us who refuse to let this commemorative day and its meaning die.

 

Our disregard of Pearl Harbor Day is indicative of the state of our country.  We have become a nation of greedy people, putting our needs first and God and country second; a nation that allows political leaders to sell their votes to the highest bidder concerning issues that effect its citizens, without contemplation or the consent of those citizens.

 

Today we live in troubled times rife with economic woes, high rates of unemployment, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a raging national heath care debate. We are barraged by media hype to the point where the average citizen is overwhelmed by the critical choices that he or she must make, to the point where many remain numb and impotent to bring about positive change.  The pioneer spirit in America is on the ropes and struggling to survive.

 

The leadership needed to take us out of troubled waters is non-existent.  As American citizens, we must take up the reins and restore our nation to its glorious past.  Where are the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, and the Lincolns of our time?  Where are the Jack and Bobby Kennedys and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s?   Our society is steeped in the mindset of “Let somebody else take care of it,” but “somebody else” never does it.  So we sit back in silence as our nation’s mores are challenged and stomped upon.

 

On this Pearl Harbor Day, 2009, I would like to offer an apology to the men and women who gave their lives and are still entombed in the USS Arizona in the deceptively calm waters off Oahu, and in the U.S. military cemeteries on native and foreign soil.  I apologize to those who died in the jungles, on the beaches, and in the deep waters of the Pacific that marked the sacrifices they made in helping to free Europe from a monster and protecting the freedom and safety of Americans. 

 

Please forgive us for not taking care of the country for which you died.

How “Great” Is This Recession?

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Great Depression

History has a habit of repeating itself, maybe in not exactly the same sequence. Today’s fiscal woes are a reflection of the Great Depression of the twentieth century.  An economic tailspin ending in financial disaster and many suicides, the Depression began with the collapse of Wall Street in 1929 as a result of greed and speculative trading.  Overnight, millionaires became paupers and America’s lifestyle altered drastically.  President Herbert Hoover turned a blind eye to the situation, erroneously treating it as a market change that would correct itself:  an entire decade would pass before the market rebounded.

 

Wall Street’s collapse impacted the banking industry, which was short on cash. As rumors of a banking failure ran rampant, depositors rushed to retrieve their savings.  It was like that scene from the film It’s a Wonderful Life, where everyone in the small town demanded to pull their money out of George Bailey’s Savings and Loan — except that the 1929 reality was driven by millions of depositors.  Their actions created a domino effect, toppling banking institutions nationwide and causing the economy to hit rock bottom.

 

Unemployment skyrocketed as businesses struggled to stay afloat.  With no income, the housing market took a nosedive; thousands of people lost their homes and farms to foreclosures.  Mother Nature added to the havoc, bringing drought and dust storms that plagued America’s farmlands.  Fearing that all this horror was the wrath of God, people all across the country prayed for forgiveness.  Most of all, they prayed for deliverance.

 

The difference between the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the Great Recession of 2008-09 was that the government did not extend bailouts during the earlier crash.  In addition, insured savings accounts, unemployment insurance, credit cards, and Social Security did not exist.  The future looked bleak in the ’30’s for those who had not jumped out of windows.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt succeeded Hoover as our nation’s President, inheriting the daunting task of national recovery.  Roosevelt realized the answer to solving the problem lay in the spending power of the people.  To stimulate their spending, he passed the NRA (National Recovery Act), the WPA (Works Project Administration), and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).  He also instituted the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) and the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).  Roosevelt charged these organizations with the following tasks:

 

The WPA – Getting Americans back into the workforce and earning incomes.

 

The CCC – Taking young, indigent men off the streets to work on public projects.

 

The SEC – Overseeing financial institutions to ensure that they did not engage in fraudulent practices.

 

The FDIC – To bring trust back to the banking industry, so that depositors would reopen their savings accounts.

 

FDR also set up food banks to put food on the table of many starving and undernourished Americans.  He used the radio to broadcast his “Fireside Chats” and thus became a calming and authoritative voice during hard times.

 

As time passed, the President also enacted Social Security. This was a mandatory savings plan designed to enable those who retired at age 65 to enjoy their twilight in dignity.  All of these were the legacy of FDR, the only President in the history of the United States to be elected for four terms.

 

Despite his best efforts to jump-start economy, the Great Depression dragged on.  Its only solution was World War ll.  With the enactment of the draft and the demand for equipment and supplies needed to fight the war, the economy boomed.  Happy days were here again!

 

I lived through the Great Depression and witnessed men begging for food on the streets on cold wintry nights.   I remember how my mother made them sandwiches and hot drinks, and allowed them to sit in the entryway of our row house, out of the biting wind to enjoy the small offerings that must have seemed like manna to them.

 

The saying goes that “out of something bad comes something good.”  The Great Depression brought families together to enjoy each other’s company.  Holidays were anticipated with relish because it meant sitting around the dining room table for a good meal with several generations of our families.  In some respects, we may be a bit better off today with this current recession.  But in others, such as family intimacy and expressions of gratitude for what we still have, we are lacking. 

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