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A Reflection on the Four Freedoms

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Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms: America’s Slow March From Isolation to Action, the Museum’s special exhibit focusing on the years leading up to World War II, recently closed.  The exhibit explored, with the help of Gallup polls from the times, the evolving views of the American public as world events unfolded in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his January 1941 State of the Union speech, envisioned four essential human freedoms that he believed could, and should, be gained for all persons everywhere – Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Worship, and Freedom from Want.  Roosevelt, in enunciating these to the American public, was providing a moral bedrock on which to build a road to participation in World War II. He was certain of the righteousness of the cause, and hoped to convince Americans to share that belief.

During the exhibit’s run, we solicited feedback from  Museum visitors about those same Four Freedoms.  Roosevelt’s stated hope was that a victorious post-war world would encompass all of them.  They are certainly among the highest of human aspirations.  We wanted to know if Museum visitors would wish to help to bring them about in today’s world, and if so, what work would be needed by the individual visitor to accomplish these lofty goals.

Following are some of the comment cards from our visitors.  Comments came from over 30 states and at least 6 foreign countries during our exhibit’s short run, thus showing the strong interest, and wide-ranging viewpoints, of Museum visitors.  We are privileged, as Americans, to be able to share these with you.


See photos of Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms: America’s Slow March From Isolation to Action on the Museum’s Facebook page and stay tuned for our next special exhibit, Infamy – December 1941, opening December 7, 2011.

Posted by Walt Burgoyne, Education Programs Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.

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