President Franklin D. Roosevelt talks about World War II

On November 2nd, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (portrayed by Albert McFadyen of Lockport, N.Y.) came to a meeting of the Grand Island Historical Society to talk about the war years. Here are of the things that he mentioned about World War II, overseas and on the home front.

wake island:
President Roosevelt: Wake Island was defended by troops and armed civilians. They were construction workers. All of them died.

The Battle of Wake Island began at about the same time as the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Those armed civilians were employees of the Morrison-Knudson Civil Engineering Company. Japan held Wake Island for the duration of World War II.

adolf hitler:
On August 11th, 1941, Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States.
President Roosevelt: Hitler declared war on us, and I couldn’t get Congress to declare war on Germany. It was a dumb move. The historians were scratching their heads.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith described Hitler’s unilateral declaration of war as “irrational.”

the aleutian islands:
The Aleutian Islands are located in the Bering Sea, between Russia and the United States. They are U.S. land. The biggest settlement in the Aleutian Islands is Unalaska. In June 1942, Japan seized Attu and Kiska. They were remote and lightly populated. Japan and the United States fought there during the summer of 1942. The Japanese became accustomed to the weather, which was frightful, and remained there through the winter, being supplied by their navy. By March of 1943, the United States Navy blockaded the island, cutting off supplies to the Japanese troops. By May of 1943, U.S. troops took the Aleutian islands back.

buffalo’s contribution to war efforts:
President Roosevelt: Aircraft was made in Buffalo and in Niagara Falls by Curtis Wright and Bell Aircraft. Bell Aircraft sent aircraft to Russia, with cannons to knock out German tanks.

america’s secret weapon:
President Roosevelt: Women took over in factories and in farms. Sixty-five percent of employees in the industrial sector were females.  Women were flying bombers over the Atlantic. I salute the women for the work that they did.

the invasion of normandy (d-day):
President Roosevelt: On June 6th, 1944, our troops invaded at Normandy. Omaha Beach was a disaster. Our men died by the numbers. Utah Beach was a fairly easy task. German resistance was light because of the terrain.

One of the men who was killed near Omaha Beach was a Grand Island resident named Private First Class Charles N. DeGlopper, age 22. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, who entered France by glider on June 7th behind enemy lines. The C company, first battalion, was cut off from the rest of the division when they attacked the LaFiere Bridge over the Merderet River in LaFiere, France. PFC DeGlopper stood and fired at the Germans, while they were shooting at him. They were distracted by this lone soldier firing at them, and his company was able to rejoin their division. PFC DeGlopper was shot three times, and the third shot killed him. Posthumously, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

President Roosevelt: Brigadier General McAuliffe was sent a message from the Germans (near Bostogne, France), advising him to surrender before everyone dies. He wrote the word “NUTS” and sent it back, confusing the German interpreter.

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
President Roosevelt: He was the only general to land in Normandy (with his troops in D-Day). He was calm under fire. A month later, in France, he died of a heart attack.

President Roosevelt: All cars and jeeps went to the military. You couldn’t buy new cars and tires. We used everything, and there was rationing. The national speed limit was 35 miles per house, and people were rationed to four gallons of gasoline per week. We limited sugar, meat, nylons, and other things.

the president named people who were very unpopular:
Tokyo Rose and Axis Annie.

poorly described flower:
President Roosevelt: The Eleanor Rose was no good in a bed but great up against a wall. That was a poor choice of words.

the president’s previous war experience:
During World War I, Franklin D. Roosevelt was undersecretary of the Navy. At that time, he was able to walk. In 1921, he was diagnosed with polio, but it has been suggested that he might have been stricken with Guillaume-Barre disease (an autoimmune disease that causes paralysis). He nearly died as a result of the disease. He spent a lot of time getting hydrotherapy at a rehabilitation center that he founded in Warm Springs, Georgia. He tried to make sure that no one ever photographed him in a wheelchair.

yalta conference:
Yalta is a resort town in Crimea on the coast of the Black Sea. It was there that Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, and Josef Stalin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics met to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of Europe after the war ended and to ensure that they all had self-determination. Unfortunately, this plan was never carried out as Europe and the rest of the world fell into a cold war that lasted until 1989.

president roosevelt’s death:
President Roosevelt: I returned from Yalta in failing health. I took a vacation to Warm Springs, Georgia, where a painting was done of myself. 

Albert McFadyen: On April 12th, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 63. Millions of mourners lined the route that the train bearing his body took. Many were weeping. He was buried in the former Springwood estate in Hyde Park on the Hudson River, located in Duchess County. It is now known as the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site.

Note: President Roosevelt died before the end of World War II. Hence, this story about President Roosevelt does not include the conclusion of the war.

2 thoughts on “President Franklin D. Roosevelt talks about World War II”

  1. Thank you for sharing these "interviews". I've been to both the FDR site in Hyde Park and the Little White House (and the facility where Roosevelt took therapy in Warm Springs, GA). I've also been to Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage. I never did know about the Eleanor Rose comment, though. Oops!

  2. I have thoroughly enjoyed these Roosevelt posts. I was born during WW2 and remember the rationing. I was so young I didn't notice it much, but my parents talked about it, how the neighbors helped each other. I remember they had to think carefully before going on a Sunday afternoon drive.

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