Posted October 3, 2012 | comments 11 Comments

Reader commentary: Roosevelt was one of best-loved presidents

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.

11 Comments | Leave a comment

    What a bunch of nonsense, Jack!

    Your premise is that those who hadn't lived during Roosevelt's time aren't equiped to understand what happened...

    How does that square that you and I lived through Reagan's presidency but undoubtedly have differing views of it?

    The reality:

    Hoover was not "the actual cause of the Depression";

    Roosevelt's policies actually prolonged the Depression (even excluding Germany, Europe came out of it by 1935) -- which is why ours is the only country that describes it as the "Great" Depression;

    And Hiroshima and Nagasaki are by no means "obliterated" -- they are vibrant, modern capitalistic world-class cities and have been for several decades.

    You're confusing those cities and the policies which gave them rise with what happened to Detroit.

    Teabilly Flathers; There is nothing wrong with you that reincarnation wouldn't cure.

    Thank you, Jack, for your service to this country during WWII with the 4th Infantry Division. Your generation has been called "The Greatest Generation". From all I have read of that time in history and when I think of all the sacrifice by you and other patriotic Americans including many in my family who served this country during WWII, you truly do deserve being called "The Greatest Generation". Along with our thanks, you deserve our respect---something that seems, sadly, to be in short supply in today's world. Thanks to you and others like you, even those who seem to only be able to express their opinions in a rude and condescending manner, have the freedom to exercise their First Amendment right.

    I also appreciate your sharing your memories of life during that time. When one has actually "lived it", there is a special understanding and "feel" of the times, of the emotional aspect during that period of time, and which can only be imagined by those of us who may read about or study it.

    There are many, many people, both then and now, who share your admiration for FDR and in fact, I don't remember ever seeing any list of "Best U.S. Presidents" as determined by notable historians that did not include FDR up near the top of that list. Just recently Newsweek polled 10 eminent historians on the 10 best presidents since 1900 and the top two finishers were Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt.

    Thank you again, Jack, for your service to our country.

    The difference between Roosevelt and modern presidents is that he chose talented people to work for him. Their education policies saved my neck before and after my own military service.

    Yes, he and his staff came up with a laundry list of programs to help the people, and those programs worked.

    It was somewhat ironic that our family store kept people from starving before the first welfare program started. When I was old enough to see the ledgers, I noted that some families were thousands of dollars in debt to the store. Most of these accounts were never paid.

    The general store was over 100 years old when my mother closed it down. Her uncle, the owner, was on his deathbed.

    Glad to see that you went the 'honor a vet' route rather than deal with the issue at hand, song98.

    Bravo! Makes you look good -- and avoids your own previous "rude and condescending manner."

    Since I'm a Vietnam Era vet, I'm sure your kudos extend to me as well.

    Since your premise is that those who lived through an era have "a special understanding and "feel" of the times," you'll likewise accept the truth about failure of academia in the '60s(by the likes as Noam Chomsky) that caused interruption of our sacrifices to stop the slaughter of 20 million Cambodians...

    You can always hope to 'imagine' or "may read about or study it."

    ...or you can simply regurgitate the narrative spoon-fed you.

    You are too funny and so predictable, Flathers! I use the words "rude and condescending" (while not even saying I meant anyone here on NV Daily comments since it has sadly become acceptable behavior in our society as a whole) and here comes Flathers, reacting defensively by attacking me, just as I predicted!

    Your quote, Flathers: "Glad to see that you went the 'honor a vet' route rather than deal with the issue at hand, song98". Are we to then submit all comments to you, FLathers, to be sure it meets your approval and "deals with the issue at hand"---as "you" see it?

    Let's see-----Jack talks about the good FDR did as president and how he was loved----I agree with Jack that FDR is well admired and I mention about historians having him in the top of the "best president" lists. Jack talks about his being a WWII vet and memories of being in a hospital in France and reactions of those at that time when his death was announced---and I comment about that when I refer to "the emotional aspect during that period of time, and which can only be imagined by those of us who may read about or study it." Funny---I thought that was the issue at hand-----------

    There are certainly those things we call "facts" but my point in my first comment and you seem to miss, is that along with "facts" there is an emotional aspect experienced by people at an event which sort of rounds out the picture--along with the facts. I have read that Roosevelt's death caused many at that time to grieve. But when Jack describes HIS personal experience and those of others in that hospital in France, that adds and gives a "picture" to the facts in a special way for most people. It does not change the facts---just adds to it and that was my point.

    I have a special admiration and respect for people in Jack's generation, my parent's generation, and what they have been through as well as the fact that we luckily still have some of them around as a source of oral history since no other generation today has lived through that time of the Great Depression, a world war, and a world far different from anything we or those younger have lived. But I really wouldn't expect you to understand, Flathers, since having read all of your comments all this time and having a glimpse into who you appear to be, compassion and kindness does not seem to be part of you. I mean really, Flathers, Jack is quite elderly and old enough to be your father----you couldn't have disagreed with him a little more kindly? Nevermind---that is beyond your understanding perhaps.

    ANd I bet in Jack's last sentence he meant to write "were obliterated" and not are.

    Thank you, Mr. Rickel, for your service to our country. Not too long ago, we lost a dear family member who also served in WWII. After his service, he went on to another admirable career, teaching, then high school principal in our local (Lucketts and Lovettsville, Virginia) schools. During his life, he had a short stint of teaching at a DOD school overseas; and he and my sister visited me in that county where he had an opportunity to again see the old school building in which he taught--although by that time it was being used to store military equipment.

    Oh, goodness me, song98!

    I responded to Jack's specific claims that are in error. You have cited nothing to contradict it.

    Very delighted that you "predicted" what you define. Quite a convenient debating tool, albeit phony.

    I am delighted that you have a special place in your heart for WWII vets -- as if nobody else does.

    I'll not play the 'I love my Dad's memory more than you game' -- because I don't need to qualify myself to strangers.

    As you do, you win.

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