Tag Archives: FDR

President Obama …

By Rosalie Tirella

… is in our prayers tonight. May he lead, truly lead our country, with wisdom, grace and bravery. May he remember his roots and more forcefully connect with and advocate for African Americans. And may he enjoy, or at least pretend to enjoy, his job, the grandest job in the world!

Obama should study President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and try to emulate him. Forget Lincoln!

Obama should remember: FDR loved being president. He found what he loved to do and DID IT WITH PASSION!!! You just know he loved getting up in the morning … because he was PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT? When you see and hear our President Obama, you think … eh, not so much. The press is a drag, the Republicans are recalcitrant haters, the economy a morale sapper. Syria, Sandy Hook. It all weighs you down.

LOOK TO FDR! The Great Depression, Hitler, World War II! Not to mention the polio that left him without any hip muscles, without any legs, so to speak. Yet when the newspaper editorial cartoonists drew President Roosevelt, he was always running, boxing, taking on Hitler like some grand American super nova!

Roosevelt, to me anyways, is our best president. He had this horrible physical handicap, but it made him a better man, an incredible president who connected with people’s, the country’s pain. It took him years to master a kind of fake walk, with the help of a cane and the strong-as-steel arm of his son, always by his side, so that he could run for public office, so that he could walk to the podium to take the oath of office on his innauguration day. He never sat down at state dinners, he plopped down. That’s how useless his leg and hip muscles were! But FDR.was in love with his job! He felt he was made for the job and vice versa! He teased the press, trading jokes with the reporters who covered him. He played poker with them.He loved the party chit chat, meeting folks, governing, leading. Historians say he was such a gifted politician because he could sense where Americans wanted to go and brought them there, ahead of schedule!

Before he became president, he founded and built with two thirds of his fortune, a hospital, rehab center for folks with infantile paralysis, polio. It was in Warm Springs, Georgia. The people there loved him! Lined up at the train station to greet FDR when he came to town. He would greet the crowd with an ebullient “Hello, Warm Springs!! Hello, Warm Springs! “

This was before he was even governor of New York! He was a lover of the peeps. And they loved him back! The folks at warm Springs even had a nickname for Roosevelt. They called him “Rosey”! How lovely! Captured his personality perfectly.

No one will ever nickname President Obama Rosey, but it would be nice if he remembered that Americans like it when their leaders show them da love. When it’s real.

Just the way it was with the brilliant politician FDR, the man who saved America several times during his four terms in office, the man who did more for the elderly, the common man, woman than Herbert Hoover and his predecessors.

FDR. President Obama should think deeply about him tomorrow … and throughout his second term.

What happened to my America?

By Edith Morgan

Where is the America I knew? I came here in 1941; this was the only country still taking in refugees, and we got in at the last minute (two months before Pearl Harbor). The U.S. quotas were full, and we were saved only because FDR established a special quota for “political refugees.”

The America I found was still struggling to recover from the crash of 1929, which finally ended when we entered World War II and the government went into full war production.
At that time, the America I knew was governed by two kinds of people: the usual politicians, beholden to various pressure groups, and the statesmen, the REAL public servants who truly wanted to work to better the lot of all people.

It was a time when “the customer was always right”, when banks were a service (not a business) as was the U.S. Post Office, and he teachers, policemen, and firemen were all public servants whose jobs were not expected to make a profit, but were legitimate expense that taxes were used to support. Most Americans agreed that an education was a valuable asset, and all of us looked up to our teachers and learned what we were expected to learn….

The airwaves were the property of the public, and stations were required to renew their licenses every three years, after consulting their publics as to how satisfied they were with the offerings.

Corporations were creatures of the state, chartered to do business according to certain rules and charters could be revoked under certain conditions. And under Teddy Roosevelt, the antitrust laws were rigorously enforced, so that no corporations could become big enough to sink the economy again.

How did were change so much that money is now everything? That “we know the price of everything and the value of nothing”? That lying has become an accepted national art (as advertising becomes more and more ubiquitous and more exaggerated), and that even freedom has a price? How have we come to accept the idea that government, which is usually all that stands between the individual and depredations of those who seek power over us, is blamed for our ills.

There is not a rule or law that has been passed that was not the RESULT of some citizens’ request for protection. Maybe we overdid it, passing laws to respond to single cases (which could be reversed if needed), but at least the individual in America could always expect his government to respond to him (unlike his employer), and to protect him overseas.

Now we are subject to the whims and greed and power mad urges of the very rich, many of whom inherited their money from parents who actually earned their money. Not one of them has invented anything, as all the inventors I know of began with hunches and ideas, often tinkering for a long time in garages and studies or labs, surviving on government grants, the support of the family or schools until they invented something that succeeded in making them rich (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs).

Where did this vagrant notion originate that if we throw more money at those who already have too much they will suddenly become creative and inventive? There is no evidence that they will do anything except to squirrel away more money, buy more expensive “toys” and such more assets out of smaller businesses, while overcharging the taxpayers for their services.

It is high time that the American people stop to think, reverse the deadly course we are on, and once again become the America that was once a beacon to other nations. The preamble to our constitution begins with the words: “We the people”, not “We the states” nor “we the corporations.”

Celebrate Patriots Day! Watch “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” starring James Cagney!

By Rosalie Tirella

I seem to have grown more patriotic with age. I remember when I played apathetic American years ago, as a dopey kid: sorta standing, shoulders slouched, of course, kinda placing a very limp hand over my heart during the Pledge of Allegiance as it blared over the loud speaker at home room in Burncoat Senior High School. I was 17 then, a cool graduating senior. I did my best to look bored with the whole deal – too cool (it was 1979!) to feel the love for old America, too dopey to understand the idea of America, too immature to get down on my knees (like my grandmother would) and thank God for America.

I remember a few years later, when I was 19, and the Vietnam War had wound down but there was still a draft. I told my mother, if young women were to be callled up: I would never fight. I would high tail it to Canada.

I had never really seen my mom look ashamed of me; she never berated me either. This time was different – she was actually mad at her favorite daughter. “Rosalie,” she said in a stern tone of voice I had never heard before, “you wouldn’t die for your country?” Then, my 40-something year-old mom, a woman way past her prime from raising three kids alone and working 60 hours a week at a minimum wage crap job in an inner-city Worcester neighborhood, said with iron-clad pride: “I would fight for my country! I would die for my country!”

I didn’t get her.

All I knew is that if the Soviet Union had bombed us that second, my mother would have run to city hall, kitchen carving knife in hand, and demanded: WHERE CAN I ENLIST?!

Today at age 85, my mother was/is part of the World War II/Great Depression generaton – the group of folks newscaster Tom Brokow has dubbed: THE GREATEST GENERATION. And they were/are! Tough as nails, my mother is. My uncles and aunts the same – all determined, industrious people who always were/are honest, decent, polite and ready to help a person when the chips are down. They believe: we are in this thing together. We all rise together/fall together. We are Americans! They always sing the National Anthem, too. Know it by heart! They sing it loud and proud at baseball games and other public events. My mom, even with her dementia, hums the pre-game “Star Spangled Banner” when she watches her beloved Red Sox on TV.

My grand parents were just as patriotic as my mom. I remember my feisty old grandma from Poland used to tell people she loathed – like my ne’er do well, peripatatic father – “You no like this country? You no love this country?! Then get the hell out! Get the hell out!” Then she would turn to my father and show him her chunky round butt (swaddled in her flannel housecoat) and whack it hard. Her poverty-wracked life in America had swept the niceties away. Still, for my “Bapy,” it was church every day (back then immigrants like my grandmother attended Mass every day!) and America all the way!

Now? Well, now it is a completely different story. I don’t know if it’s reimagining my mother, my immigrant grandparents or almost 11 years of publishing and writing for my own paper – InCityTimes – but I am absolutely besotted with America! Cuckoo over the very idea! I adore my country’s fab history! It’s music. Its painters. Its national parks. Its great presidents (FDR, TR, Lincoln, Washington, Kennedy!). And lately … its grand musicals of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s.

No where can you see America at her finest – her feistiest, her most idealistic, her most artistic and talented – than in American musicals. The melodies, the lyrics, the choreographers, the dancers … all Americans! All American! All first rate! We really were number one back then! In brains, in heart, in spirit! The world looked upon us as a free, brassy, brilliant one of a kind miracle. Buy/rent/watch on TCM the following movies and you’ll see what I mean: “Top Hat/anything starring Fred Astaire,” “An American in Paris,” “Singing in the Rain/anything Gene Kelley,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Oaklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “Gi Gi,” “Show Boat,” “Calamity Jane,” “West Side Story,” “White Christmas,” “Going My Way,” “Guys and Dolls.”

Last night, in honor of Patriot’s Day, I watched the classic American musical “Yankee Doodle Dandy” starring the one and only classic American actor James Cagney! Fantastic!

There he is, James Cagney, a movie tough guy who is no Fred Astaire and can’t even carry a tune (he kinda half speaks/sings the songs), dancing to and singing classic American songs written by another classic American – song writer George Cohan … and he’s brilliant! Cagney’s performance makes you wanna stand up and cheer for our “Grand Old Flag.” And you believe we can lick Hitler because we won’t stop fighting “Til It’s Over, Over There!”!

All these great songs, celebrations of America, written to get us marching and singing. But not progaganda – garbage that was forced from the pen, lies to seduce the masses. These are American love songs written by guys like Cohen, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart. Guys who were maybe considered part of America’s underbelly: Italian Americans and Jews whose parents came from Europe. Life was tough but there were opportunities for the industrious and talented! Look old woman from Italy! Your son has grown up to be frank Capra! Where would American musicals and movies be without first generation Americans like Frank Capra, Irving Berlin and George Cohan?

No where!

But I digress. LIke I said, in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cagney is no Fred Astaire; he can’t really dance or even sing! But he is mesmerizing! Ebullient! When you see Cagney strut down the stage and sing/speak Cohan’s songs, you are uplifted! You are bathed in pure spirit, pure American showmanship! And then the topper: as part of the finale, when Cagney as Cohan plays FDR in a skit, and the camera pans in for a close up Cagney/George Cohan looks squarely into the lens and basically tells Adoph Hitler to shove it!

I loved it! And so did the WW II audiences who first saw it! They got up to their feet in movie theatres all over the country and cheered! Here they were in the middle of World War II, up against EVIL incarnate and little tough thug james Cagney – with a hardscrabbe American background like my mom’s and grandma’s – is telling them: We’ll cream Hitler! We will be a free country – forever!

Only in America!

And FDR, Franklin Delano Roosvelt, the president Cagney/Cohan portrays in the skit? Well, my mom still finds it hard to believe her hero was in a wheelchair all those years. Sure, she tells me, everyone knew FDR had had polio, but … he couldn’t walk?! She still doesn’t quite believe the facts. And By God, if you watch, “Yankee Dodle Dandy” (Cagney/Cohan tells his life story to FDR during a visit with the president to receive the Congressinal Medal of Honor) FDR danced across America. Few folks (accept Eleanor!) could keep up!

It is so important to know our history! To tap into our American idealism and remember how great we really are! It just takes hard work, a bit of selflessness, a lot of joy! Watch “Yankke Doodle Dandy” or any Fred Astaire flick or any American musical, and you’ll see just how fantastic America is/YOU are!

Happy Patriot’s Day!