(Senate - May 01, 1997)

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[Pages S3927-S3928]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


 Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, tomorrow, May 2, we will dedicate a 
memorial on the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park to one of America's 
greatest Presidents, a towering figure in the history of the 20th 
century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
  A memorial to FDR was first proposed in the Congress as early as 
1946. The FDR Memorial Commission was finally established, by law, in 
1955. It has taken 42 years to complete this effort. I am proud to have 
served on the Memorial Commission. Tomorrow, will be a great day for 
Americans, a day to look back and remember FDR, his enormous 
contribution to all of our lives and the contribution of the generation 
of Americans who struggled through the depression and valiantly 
defeated fascism; a day to admire the beauty and to be inspired by the 
art of this great new addition to our capital city's memorials; and a 
day to contemplate America's future and the contribution that this 
memorial will make to the understanding that future generations will 
have of one of the most critical eras of our history.
  This memorial is a expression of what America is all about. It is 
what America can do to overcome challenges of depression and war. 
Roosevelt imbued hope and he instilled optimism in a people who were 
down and out in a depression and then attacked when we were down, by 
Japan at Pearl Harbor.
  Franklin Roosevelt was an inspirational leader because of his 
optimism in the face of the long odds our Nation faced. He was our 
voice. He reflected our hopes. He continues to inspire us today because 
he showed what we can do when we pull together as a people. And, this 
new memorial will help to keep FDR's legacy inspiring Americans for the 
centuries ahead.
  Roosevelt saw the positive role of Government in the economy, pulling 
us out of the depression and in times of a world war, when we had to 
pull together. But he was also willing to experiment. He was not 
somebody who would hang onto a program if it wasn't working. He 
believed that Government programs could make a positive difference. And 
they did for millions. But he also believed that if Government programs 
were not working that we

[[Page S3928]]

should either make them work or drop them. This is a model we would do 
well to keep in mind in the weeks, and the years ahead as Congress 
grapples with the difficult problems of balancing the needs of people, 
and the role of Government in addressing those needs with the demands 
of fiscal responsibility.
  The memorial will also honor the memory and contributions of the 
First Lady who as the eyes and ears of the President traveled hundreds 
of thousands of miles visiting Americans in every walk of life.
  Mr. President, I want to mention a few of my own memories of F.D.R. 
During the Roosevelt years, I was a young boy, but I can clearly 
remember the strength of his voice in those fireside chats. And I 
remember the conversation around the family's dinner table about what a 
great leader he was.
  I remember scouting the streets for discarded empty cigarette packs. 
This was something kids did. We stripped off the tin foil linings and 
brought them to school where they were rolled together to create large 
balls of the metal, which could be recycled for the war effort. This 
gave us an enormous sense of being a part of the effort and of 
responding to Roosevelt's call for participation.
  And, I remember his dog, Fala. Especially for a young boy Fala was a 
big part of the Roosevelt persona. That's why, when I noted the fact 
that his dog, which meant so much to him and to the Nation, which was 
such a symbol of his warmth and humanity, was left out of the monument, 
I suggested Fala be represented in the memorial and the commission 
agreed. So, tomorrow as the statues of Franklin and of Eleanor are 
unveiled, a little statue of Fala, recognizing his historic role, will 
also be there as well, helping to connect FDR to future generations of 
visitors, especially our kids and grandkids.
  Mr. President, now I would like to honor the memory of this great 
American President by reading some of the anecdotes and sentiments of 
people from Michigan, where he is well remembered by seniors and 
veterans, and even by many who know him only from film and audio tape, 
but remembered with reverence and often with at least one tear in the 
  I have asked my constituents in Michigan to send to me some of their 
remembrances of FDR. I have received many moving and inspiring stories. 
I want to share some of those with my colleagues in the Senate today.