FDR’s Repeated Appeal
I got hooked on the myth of FDR when I was just a kid. Ever since I saw 1973’s “The Way We Were,” sympathizing with Streisand’s smart, go-getter Katie Morosky character, In my eight year old mind both Katie and I worked hard hoping to be discovered, we both considered ourselves un-pretty, and we both adored Robert Redford. But there was that other part of Katie. Her idealism and fascination with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I was naturally interested in history, but most classwork was centered around battles and dates, This movie offered a peek into what happened on the Home Front while the men and boys were fighting overseas. To think every citizen had to sacrifice. From the ration cards and nylons to life itself. And they seemed so willing.
It was less than thirty years since VJ day, but American was in the midst of a war that had splintered the country in body and spirit. In contrast, “The Way We Were” was a movie about a time when America had faith in its government, a time when America banded together behind a President who was beloved by the majority.
As we all know, he couldn’t have accomplished all that in one term, or even two or three. Elected to four terms, before he died in office.
When “The Way We Were” came out I was too young to understand the complex political mood of the country in the waning years of the Vietnam war, after bloody battles, corruption, civil upheaval and heartbreaking assassinations, but I knew this movie was making a statement that it was different then.
Even with all I know now about the imperfect man FDR really was, I still can’t shake that legendary view of him and the heroic side of things. Crippled by polio but radiating strength, he did what he had to do to bring us out of the Depression and lead the nation through the battles of a generation to win victory over Nazi Germany and the Axis powers.