The United Nations Initiated

Today in History, October 24, 1945 & 1949:

Since 1941 FDR and Winston Churchill had been referring to the Allies as the “United Nations.”

on this date in 1945 the 5 permanent members of the Security Council and other signatories signed the UN Charter, beginning the organization two months after the end of WWII.

Exactly 4 years later in 1949 the cornerstone to the United Nations building in New York City was laid down.

Assassination Connections

Today in History, February 15: 1933 –

Assassination; Courage; and links between courageous Presidents. President elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives a speech, from his car (he is crippled, though few know it), in Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida. Standing on the running board of the car was a political ally, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak.

Nearby a 5 foot, unemployed Italian immigrant bricklayer stands on a chair so that he can see the soon to be president, and fires his revolver. Instead of FDR he strikes Cermak before a woman standing beside him attacks him…and his next four shots injure standersby instead.

Within weeks Cermak dies…and the assassin will die by execution. Stories will go forward about whether FDR was the intended target, or Cermak, who was at the time fighting the Chicago mob.

What I find most interesting is the extended story. The crowd was about to beat the assassin to death in a bloodlust…Franklin calmed them…the suspect should face a court of law. FDR then directed that the Chicago mayor be loaded into his car, and cradled him in his lap as he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Cermak would die, the assassin would be executed…but FDR’s courage would inspire the nation.

FDR had adored his distant cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. TR had been shot in the chest while campaigning for the Presidency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (by an insane immigrant)discouraged the crowd from abusing the would-be assassin…and continued on to finish a lengthy speech before seeking medical attention…he was a Bull Moose.

When he was a young boy in 1865 in New York, Teddy Roosevelt had watched from the window of a New York apartment as the body of his idol, President Abraham Lincoln, passed by in a funeral escort after he was assassinated in Washington, D. C. Lincoln had been discouraged from public appearances, including at Ford’s Theater, and responded to the effect that if someone wanted him dead, they would find a way. Our history is not nearly as disconnected as we think, and courage comes from knowledge and perspective.

The First “Fireside” Chat

Today in History, March 12: 1933 – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt holds his first “Fireside Chat” with the American public. We must set the historical stage to begin with. Get rid of your cell phone; you don’t have a computer, nor a television. Chances are, you don’t have a telephone at all. You have, however, scrimped, and saved so that you could buy a radio for your family. Each evening you and your family huddled close to the large box that conveyed sound from all over the country. Last week the President unilaterally closed every bank in the country because people were panicking and making “runs” on the banks during the Great Depression. Today, after the panic had calmed down, he re-opened the banks. And tonight, he spoke to his “friends”, as if he were sitting in their living rooms by the fire, to explain his actions with his calming, melodious voice. He was the first President that was able to do so…and FDR was a master politician, a master at making his listeners believe that he was actually sitting next to his fire in a rocker chatting with his friends.  Although he was certainly upper class, he spoke in common language so he could relate to all walks of life. In reality he was sitting at his desk in the oval office, speaking into several microphones, surrounded by wires. He calmed the American citizens, as he did 31 more times in “fireside” chats until 1944 through financial strife and World War. I wonder what his cousin TR would have done with this medium; I also wonder what it would be like to live in a “simpler” time…I say that because our values were more focused then, not because our parents and grandparents dealt with less complicated problems…that is certainly not the case. Some reading this could school us on their feelings as children during those times. The rest of us can only imagine that it was new and amazing for the President to speak to you directly.