Topic: "Man of the Century"
TIME Magazine named Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the most important person in the 20th Century. Frodo considered that possibility before the announcement, and he has contemplated it ever since. Elvis Presley, Adolf Hitler, Jonas Salk, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Mao Tse-Tung, Neil Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Ford, Wilbur/Orville Wright, Christian Barnaard, Winston Churchill, Nikolai Lenin, Luciano Pavarotti, Laurence Olivier, J.R.R. Tolkien and countless others addressed the challenges before them and became dominant in the minds of other men, and one Hobbit. Singling out any one individual would certainly seem to be a value judgment, and enough to start a fight in almost any bar.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt may, however, be a standard beyond comparison for that honor. Serving longer in office as President of one of the most powerful countries on Earth (at that time) than any who came before, he guided the world through a cataclysmic world war, and the deepest economic depression in modern times. He was an accomplished and forceful speaker, an able politician, and he was paralyzed by polio. Bilbo lived through these times and has often told Frodo that without the support that "FDR" mustered for those hit hardest by the depression, many would have died, including Bilbo. He was obviously an extraordinary human being.
Frodo has journeyed on several occasions to "The Little White House" in the community of Warm Springs, Georgia. Roosevelt came to this small retreat several times during his Presidency. The bubbling spa was especially soothing to a body wracked by his painful affliction. To walk the grounds is to understand why any one under such pain and stress would welcome the respite of such a town. To visit Warm Springs is to know the Shire.
This discussion is timely because of recent events in the Georgia State Legislature. Rather benignly, a State Representative, a Democrat from the Warm Springs area, entered a bill to create an "FDR Appreciation Day" in the State of Georgia. It did not seek the status of an official holiday, but it did seek to document the fact that so great a leader did spend a good deal of time in the State, and that the people he visited took note of his affection. Strangely enough, however, that did not sit well with another State Representative, a Republican from the community of Canton, some 100 miles to the north of Warm Springs. This gentleman objected to the bill, thence stopping its' enactment under rules of the Georgia House. It seems that the gentleman felt it was inappropriate for the State to so recognize an individual who had conducted an extra-marital affair. It was common knowledge, he asserted, that Roosevelt had had sex with his wife's personal secretary.
In subsequent days there have been many pieces of correspondence and commentary in support of the denial of "FDR Appreciation Day." One writer argued that FDR had taken the nation to the brink of socialism, and was therefore a greater threat to freedom than to its' maintenance. Another felt that if it was such a worthwhile suggestion, then why didn't the proposal come forth while the Democrats ran the State.
Frodo is rather pleased that this matter has gotten so little attention in other parts of the world. This is the kind of thing that he would expect to hear from the State Legislature in South Dakota. Better that the world consider them to be Neanderthals. Given what we now know, the world would be correct.