About the cover: Inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous "Four Freedoms" speech delivered to Congress on the eve of World War II, Norman Rockwell created four paintings depicting simple fam- ily scenes, illustrating freedoms Americans often take for granted. Rockwell spent six months painting The Four Freedoms, which were published in a series of Saturday Evening Post issues in 1943, accompanied by short essays from four distinguished writers. The U.S. Government subsequently issued posters of Rockwell's paintings in a highly successful war bond campaign that raised more than $132 million for the war effort. Rockwell's homey depictions of Roosevelt's abstract concepts were widely popular across America, yet not everyone was completely in tune with the ideas elaborated in Roosevelt's speech.
In an editorial published later in 1943 (reprinted below), Post editors addressed a controversy over the meaning of the freedoms, in a debate that still has relevance today. Perhaps not since FDR has a president faced challenges as daunting as those that await our new Commander in Chief, who like FDR promised significant "change" in a time of tremendous economic and global turmoil.
"It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just be- gun," Barack Obama said during the campaign. "Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today."
Is the dream still alive? As then, we are certainly permitted to hope and aspire to the same ideal.
The Four Freedoms Are an Ideal
For millions of people throughout the world the Four Freedoms have come to represent something which gives meaning and importance to the sacrifices which the human race is now making, but these freedoms are by no means universally accepted as worthy aims for nations at war. Indeed, a not inconsiderable number of people regard the Four Freedoms as actually evil, an effort to deceive people into imagining that they will never again have to take thought for the morrow, since government will provide everything for them.
Few people object to the first two freedoms mentioned by President Roosevelt in his message of January 6, 1941. Freedoms of Speech and Religion are familiar to Americans and are already guaranteed to them. Some people wondered whether the President's phrase "everywhere in the world" meant that the United States would be called on to fight until such liberties as we enjoy became the right of millions in Asia, Russia, and Eastern Europe. But what the President said was that we "look forward to a world" in which these freedoms are taken for granted. In as much as we Americans have prided ourselves on looking forward to such a free world ever since we became free ourselves, it is difficult to see that Mr. Roosevelt said anything very alarming when he led the world to hope that Freedoms of Speech and Religion might someday be the possession of men everywhere.
The real controversy, of course, rages about the other two freedoms: Freedom from Want and Freedom from …