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Home Front Friday: A Wartime Inauguration Sparks Inspiration

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Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

On January 20, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in for a fourth term, which was cut short on April 12 of the same year due to his decline in health and passing. No president in the history of presidents had been sworn in for a fourth term, or even a third for that matter. It had always been two terms, but in the case of President Roosevelt, the American public did not want to defer from their familiar and trusted leader during a tense time of economic struggles and outbreak of war. Today, January 20, 2017, we are swearing in a new American who will begin their first term as President of the United States. Inauguration ceremonies began with George Washington, and since then have served as the day that an elected official is customarily sworn in and then addresses the American public with a speech laying out their goals and plans for the next four years. If you’re looking to learn more about the history of the induction on this January 20, 2017 inauguration of yet another President, follow this link.

In 1941, President Roosevelt was inaugurated for his third term as President. This was essentially about a whole year before Pearl Harbor was attacked and the formation of a direct U.S. relationship with the war. Floods of people gathered in front of the Capitol ready to listen to how Roosevelt will make his historic third term a four years of working to, “save the Nation and its institutions from disruption from without.” America was a nation of people made up of soon to be enlisted or drafted men and working civilians who banded together in the fight to preserve democracy and end the war on Nazi domination and Japanese expansion in the name of liberty.

FDR delivering his inaugural address on January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

FDR delivering his inaugural address on January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The years that followed this 1941 Inauguration Ceremony changed the United States from a neutral nation determined to stay out of the conflict to a united front, apart of a group of Allies, fighting in battle, losing lives, and persevering both on the battlefront and Home Front. Therefore, the somber, very low key and laid-back atmosphere of President Roosevelt’s Inauguration on January 20, 1945 was not a surprise. His heal was declining, and WWII was reaching a close. The Allies were going to emerge victorious, but no attention could be deferred from the war until their boys were home and safe from the constant threat of danger in Europe and the Pacific.

At the Inauguration in 1945, there was a short parade and a cold brunch. President Roosevelt did not host a long parade that traveled through the whole of Washington, D.C. to the White House due to the rationing of gasoline and the Home Front’s dedication to the only purposeful use of the valuable gallons of gasoline. In his 1945 address, Roosevelt stated:

“We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.'”

Photo courtesy of cnn.com.

FDR delivering his speech on January 20, 1945. Photo courtesy of cnn.com.

These are some pretty iconic words, and definitely a phrase that we can hold us accountable today. It  never hurts to receive a nice reminder or wake up call from either a person of the past, like Roosevelt, or from your own friends that you see every day. Sometimes we need a little reminder that we are in this life together and taking it day by day as one nation, under God. Everyday is different and never easy, but as Roosevelt said, we are members of a human community and its up to us to treat one another with the respect each person deserves. Roosevelt captured the embodiment of the Home Front spirit with that quote; the “we can do it” attitude and unification of so many people for a common cause during WWII. For his full speech, follow this link.

In honor of Roosevelt’s speech, here are 7 ways you can be an even better citizen of the world and be a kind friend to those around you:

1. Hold the door for those behind you. That extra five seconds in  your life you use to wait for someone behind you could make all the positive difference in someone else’s day.

2. Write down three good things that happened to you during the day.

3. Definitely say “please” and “thank you.” Manners go a long way.

4. SMILE! (at everyone, even throw a stranger a soft smile. It may just brighten their day.)

5. Call a friend or family member and tell them that you appreciate them.

6. Learn something new. Whether its a language, recipe, or craft. Go ahead and try it out and see how much you’re capable of. It’ll bring you some joy and could inspire someone else to try something they’ve been wanting to do.

7. Pay it forward. However you may like. Pay a visit to the Pay It Forward site and learn more.

There are so many more than 7 ways to practice gratitude and appreciation for one another, so if you’re looking for other ways, follow this link to a Huffington Post article that’ll have you feeing inspired. 

Posted by Camille Weber, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

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