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Both the FDR Presidential Library and the Home of FDR National Historic Site hosted more than 3000 visitors over Memorial Day Weekend at a series of public programs and events. The weekend kicked off with a full audience at the Library’s annual USO Show on Friday night. Attendees were treated to an evening of entertainment including comedy, newsreels, and acrobatics, and ending in a half-hour set of big band music.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Library presented a weekend of historic military displays in the Henry A. Wallace Center. Re-enactors in battle dress shared their love of history with visitors. Collections of military uniforms, prop weapons, and insignia from 1917 to the present day were also displayed. Four period military vehicles in the Library parking lot made up one of the more popular exhibits. On Monday, Memorial Day, the Home of FDR National Historic Site hosted a graveside memorial service and Commander Rob Thompson of the USS ROOSEVELT (DDG 80), a guided missile destroyer, made remarks. Commander Thompson and 25 members of his crew were visiting Hyde Park on May 28 as part of Dutchess County Fleet Week 2012.


In conjunction with the opening of a special exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York City (opening June 7) called “Churchill: the Power of Words,” the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute will host a one-day symposium on June 9, 2012 that will examine the wartime relationship of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, the onset of the “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States, and the legacy of the two men for both liberal and conservative politics in the United States and United Kingdom. The program will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home, Hyde Park, New York.

The symposium is being organized in collaboration with the Churchill Archives Centre (Cambridge, England), the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, the Morgan Library and Marist College. “The Churchill-Roosevelt Legacy” symposium will consist of two afternoon panel discussions that includes such notable scholars as David Reynolds, author of “In Command of History, Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War”; Andrew Roberts, author of “Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West”; Richard Aldous, author of “Reagan and Thatcher: A Difficult Relationship”; and Warren Kimball, author “Forged in War: Roosevelt, Churchill and the Second World War.” This is a free public event.

Memorial Day celebrations in the United States began after the Civil War to commemorate the lives of those lost during the war. During FDR’s presidency, Decoration Day honored the lives of all Americans who had died in military service for the United States. The name of the holiday was officially changed to Memorial Day in 1967 and starting in 1971 the date was moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May.

In 1936, FDR received the following message from King Leopold III of Belgium in observance of Decoration Day.

FDR’s response:

This document and others from the collections of the FDR Library can be found on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Day by Day website.

The Library hosted a lively discussion on civil rights on April 11. Supervisory Archivist Bob Clark welcomed the audience and Michael McCoy, assistant professor of history at SUNY Orange led an hour-long panel discussion on civility and democracy in America as it relates to civil rights issues. The program was part of the “Fireplace Lounge Chats” discussion series on civility and democracy in America — in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home. With support from a New York Council for the Humanities grant, a group of regional political scientists, educators, historians and local politicians are presenting eight “Fireplace Lounge Chats” throughout the Hudson Valley.

The second of two programs to be held at the Roosevelt Library in the month of April will occur on April 25 focusing on FDR’s presidency. These expert-led discussions feature representatives from local colleges, area high schools, county legislatures, the Roosevelt Library and SUNY Orange. The issue examined across all eight programs is the question of civility in American political discourse and how it relates to the topic of the evening.

Public Programs and Education staff at the Roosevelt Library are working hard to prepare for this year’s Memorial Day Weekend activities. Events will kick-off with the annual USO Show on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. This program features WWII-era entertainment taking visitors back to the Roosevelt days as attendees enjoy an evening of comedy and entertainment, historic film footage, and music from the 1940s. On Saturday, May 26, 2012 and Sunday, May 27, 2012 the Roosevelt Library will present a weekend of World War II displays inside the Henry A. Wallace Center.

Re-enactors in battle dress will be on hand to share their love of history with World War II enthusiasts, families, teachers, and students. Collections of military uniforms, prop weapons, and insignia will be on display. Period military vehicles will also be on display in the courtyard of the Wallace Center and musicians will perform live music from the 1940s both Saturday and Sunday on the stage in the Multipurpose Room.

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, the National Park Service will host a Graveside Memorial Service at 3:00 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the Home of FDR National Historic Site. Guests of honor will include 25 sailors from the Guided Missile Destroyer USS ROOSEVELT (DDG 80), named in honor of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and adopted by Dutchess County and Hyde Park by resolution in 2009. All Memorial Day Weekend events are free, pubic events. Please come and enjoy them!

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historical Site will host a series of public events over Memorial Day Weekend beginning Friday, May 28 through Monday, May 31, 2010. These events are:

USO Show
Friday, May 28, 2010
Location: Henry A. Wallace Center
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Bivouac – Living History Encampment
Saturday, May 29, 2010 – Sunday May 30, 2010
Location: Roosevelt Library Lawn
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Special Presentation – “The USS ROOSEVELT (DDG 80)
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Location: Henry A. Wallace Center
Time: 3:00 p.m.

Graveside Memorial Service
Monday, May 31, 2010
Location: Rose Garden, Home of FDR National Historic Site
Time: 2:00 p.m.

For more information about these events, check out our events calendar or click here.

May 30, 1938

“HYDE PARK, Sunday—…Tomorrow, Monday, May 30th, is Decoration Day and long processions wending their way to the various churchyards to hold ceremonies decorating the graves of those men who have made the supreme sacrifice in past wars will remind us of those who have died for this country.

Only a little over 20 years have passed since the World War and yet, everywhere people are talking of the imminence of the next world war. Strange it is that we accept so placidly this constant recurrence of waste which plunges us into years of hardship and difficult reconstruction.

When Miss Margaret Bonfield lunched with me the other day, I could not help wondering how a woman, who has given so much of her life to constructive work for the betterment of human beings, can continue to be hopeful and patient in the face of the apparent stupidity which we show in leading our lives.

I wish that we could use Decoration Day throughout this country, not only as a patriotic celebration to honor the deeds of the past, but as a day on which we remind our young people of their obligation to the future. On them lies the necessity to change the thinking of the future so that we will prevent graves all over the world, which on one day or another, are visited first by sorrowing relatives, and later by patriotic youngsters and their elders who realize that the people under the flag-bedecked gravestones gave all they had to give for their country and gained little for it and the world.

All these young lives might have served their country much more constructively had they been allowed to live out their days in peace. It is not a question of being unwilling to die for your country. It is far more the need for the type of imagination which will visualize the possibility of living so that the country will profit by the lives of each one of its citizens. When they die, on their tombstones should be written: “John James lived from 1920-1980 and accomplished thus and so,” instead of “Here lies John James who died at the age of 20 in the service of his country in the battle of x x x.”

Memorial Day should never be given up, but as the years go by we hope that people will be honored for their lives and not for their deaths.”

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