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President Franklin D. Roosevelt

A man not without critics, especially for his post-Depression domestic policies, Roosevelt enjoyed the support of the military during his dozen years as commander in chief. A few months after his death, The American Legion awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal.

Past National Commander Louis Johnson quoted the New York Herald Tribune, which had opposed many of Roosevelt's domestic policies but supported his decision to enter World War II: "He knew that this vast international catastrophe was shaping into the greatest single crisis in American history; he knew how to lead it through the perils of the great war that was inevitable and into a firm coalition with the other free peoples of the earth - the kind of coalition which is the essential foundation for any secure peace and viable world order, in the years to come."

Shortly before his death, Roosevelt wrote, "I want to say ... how fine it is to see the Legion once again arraying its great strength behind the efforts which are being made to create machinery for a just and lasting peace."

As state senator, assistant secretary of the Navy, governor of New York and president, Roosevelt persevered in his service to country even after he was stricken with polio and confined to a wheelchair.

Upon taking office in 1933, Roosevelt pushed the New Deal to help a struggling United States rebound from the Great Depression. During the bank holiday, he closed all the banks and pushed legislation through Congress to permanently close the insolvent ones and reorganize others before reopening. Soon, deposits exceeded withdrawals, ending the nation's run on money.

Faced with plenty of opposition to this and other domestic policies, Roosevelt nevertheless remained popular enough to win re-election three more times. His fourth term was brief, ending with his death April 12, 1945, at 63.

Johnson told Legionnaires to continue with Roosevelt's pursuit of peace: "Franklin Delano Roosevelt plucked the nettle, danger. He was not to share the splendor of the flower, safety. The duty to carry on is now ours. We must face the peace united in the purpose, as never before, that we must be bound together with every freedom-loving people about the world, to make freedom sure, and the peace sure. To that he had guided us."

For more on Roosevelt, click here (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/32_f_roosevelt/index.html).

 

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