Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Memorial to a Man Who Redefined Government Cluttered Monument Symbolizes the Crises Franklin D. Roosevelt Faced - and Vanquished

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Memorial to a Man Who Redefined Government Cluttered Monument Symbolizes the Crises Franklin D. Roosevelt Faced - and Vanquished

Article excerpt

Washington has memorials to two great 18th-century presidents, Washington and Jefferson, and to a great 19th-century president, Abraham Lincoln.

Today the city opens a commemorative display honoring a man many historians consider the greatest president of the 20th century - Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The challenge facing all such monuments is to convey the greatness of their subject. The statue of Lincoln, which sits gazing down the mall at the Capitol, achieves the apotheosis of its subject. Thomas Jefferson standing among the columns of his simulated Greek temple is clearly the depiction of nobility. FDR was the nation's chief executive from 1933 to April 1945, and his place in history is more complicated than his two stone companions beside the Potomac. He will be remembered for re-shaping the federal government and redefining its uses in ways so radical that we still argue about them - about welfare, about the size of government, about the apportionment of power between Washington and the states. He will be honored, along with Britain's Winston Churchill (a distant FDR cousin) and France's Gen. Charles De Gaulle, for the liberation of Europe from Hitler's and Mussolini's tyranny. The new memorial, which stands on 7.5 acres between Washington's Cherry Tree walk and a road that runs parallel to the Potomac River, almost seems to be a tribute to two men. The first led his country through the worst domestic calamity since the Civil War - the Great Depression. He alleviated much of the suffering and stagnation and began America's reconstruction. The second FDR was one of a small group of leaders who plotted a strategy that led to victory in World War II. This monument is a narrative of FDR's presidential life in art, architecture, and landscaping. Four one-story buildings are linked to one another by walls of jagged rock, waterfalls, and scattered blocks of gray granite. …

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