History Matters

Published 7:00 am Sunday, November 6, 2022

November 1 to November 15

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency began on November 8, 1932. Afterwards, he was re-elected in 1936, 1940 and 1944. During the administrations, he guided the country through the Great Depression and World War II–but he died April 12, 1945—three and a half weeks before the combat ended.

In a tribute written for University of Virginia’s Miller Center, historian William E. Leuchtenburg wrote:

“Under Roosevelt’s leadership, the United States emerged from World War II as the world’s foremost economic, political, and military power. FDR’s contributions to domestic life during his presidency were just as vital. While his “New Deal” did not end the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s leadership gave Americans hope and confidence in their darkest hours and fundamentally reshaped the relationship between the federal government and the American people. FDR so dominated American politics that he almost single-handedly launched the Democratic Party into a position of prolonged political dominance. During his tenure, FDR also lifted both the standing and power of the American presidency to unprecedented heights.”

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR’s Introduction to War, Politics, and Life by Stanley Weintraub.

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There are approximately 400,000 veterans in Arlington National Cemetery with engraved ranks, branches of service; dates of birth and death; on their headstones. Except one:

History.com reports that “Exactly three years after the end of World War I [on November 11, 1921], the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier [was] dedicated at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia during an Armistice Day ceremony presided over by President Warren G. Harding.”

According to the Arlington National Cemetery, a “Vietnam War Unknown lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda from May 25 to 28, 1984. On Memorial Day, May 28, a military procession transported the casket to Arlington National Cemetery for burial. President Ronald Reagan presided over the interment ceremony.” When DNA became available in 1998, it was used to discover the identity of the unknown soldier, who was then reinterred in accordance with the wishes of his family.

“On September 17, 1999 — National POW/MIA Recognition Day — [his tomb] was rededicated to honor all missing U.S. service members from the Vietnam War.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier written by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated Matt Tavares.

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In 1892, Annie Moore– a 15-year-old Irish immigrant—was the first of more than 12 million who were welcomed to Ellis Island–until it was decommissioned–in November of 1954.  Even now, appreciable numbers of visitors, tourists and genealogy buffs still pass through every year.

“Not all immigrants who sailed into New York had to go through Ellis Island. First- and second-class passengers submitted to a brief shipboard inspection and then disembarked at the piers in New York or New Jersey, where they passed through customs. People in third class, though, were transported to Ellis Island, where they underwent medical and legal inspections to ensure they didn’t have a contagious disease or some condition that would make them a burden to the government. Only two percent of all immigrants were denied entrance into the U.S.,” according to History.com.

The Grateful American Book Prize suggests books such as American Passage: The History of Ellis Island by Vincent J. Cannato for more information.

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