By Jack A. Rickel
This is in response to a column in the Sept. 21 edition of the Daily's Opinion section titled "Obama's first term is like Roosevelt's dismal second."
This letter is a cheap trick to denigrate one of the best presidents the country ever had along with President Barack Obama. The columnist, Michael Barone, is a well educated man with law degrees from both Harvard and Yale, but he has been brainwashed by the diehard Republicans with whom he chooses to associate.
He is based at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank solidly immersed in Republican politics. He is a journalist for the Washington Examiner, a free newspaper normally distributed in subway lobbies. The owner of the Examiner is a Mr. Phillip Anschutz who is one of the 1 percent and the 34th richest man in the United States with a net worth of $7 billion. He bought the newspaper so he could get his ultra conservative views before the public.
Mr. Barone was not born until Sept. 19, 1944, so it is evident he never lived through the Great Depression as I did. Herbert Hoover, the president before Roosevel, was called the "do nothing president" and the actual cause of the depression. When Roosevelt was elected to follow Hoover, the banks were failing and in danger of closing. The first thing he did was make all the banks close to keep the public from making a run on the banks and driving them into bankruptcy. Roosevelt had his own radio show, and after a few days of convincing the American public "they had no fear except fear itself," the banks were able to reopen and the public gave Roosevelt their confidence. He literally created jobs out of thin air by developing new organizations to employ the thousands who were out of work.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a semi-military organization that wore government-furnished uniform work clothes and established work bases at former Army bases. They cleared forests, built roads and dwelling units. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built bridges and many of the post offices and libraries that are still in use today. Members of our government would do well to study the character and benefits of these two programs as a quick supplement to the jobs requirements.
Roosevelt was one of the best loved presidents of all times. As a result of public demand, he was the only president to ever be elected to four terms of office. The public hung on every word of his radio speeches and he was quoted widely in the press.
I was with the 4th Infantry Division under Gen. George S. Patton in World War II and had been wounded in Germany. I was recovering in a hospital in Verdun, France, the site of some of the fiercest battles in World War I, when news on the radio announced that Roosevelt had died and the vice president, Harry S. Truman was going to take his place.
There was hardly a dry eye in the patients and staff in the hospital that day, partly because of their love of the president and fear that a new untrained president would not be able to handle the war, which was still going on, as Roosevelt did. Little did we know that tough old Truman would fire Gen. Douglas MacArthur over his desire to invade North Korea and drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war with Japan. By the way, I have visited both of these sites of destruction, and they are obliterated.
Jack A. Rickel is a resident of Front Royal.