2012-10-24 / Features

FDR Four Freedoms Park Dedicated

BY JOYCE VETERE MILOWSKI AND DAN MILLER


Former President Bill Clinton, surrounded by (l. to r.); Tom Brokaw, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Governor Andrew Cuomo, addresses the hundreds who gathered to remember FDR and his Four Freedoms. 
Photo Dan Miller/DMD Images Former President Bill Clinton, surrounded by (l. to r.); Tom Brokaw, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Governor Andrew Cuomo, addresses the hundreds who gathered to remember FDR and his Four Freedoms. Photo Dan Miller/DMD Images The dedication of The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park took place on October 17 at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island on the East River where the triangular piece of land is located, and the Park faces the United Nations. Honored guest speakers included former President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Ambassador William vanden Heuvel, with Tom Brokaw serving as master of ceremonies. Additional dignitaries included former Governor Mario Cuomo and First Lady Matilda Cuomo (parents of the present governor), former Governor David Paterson, former Mayor David Dinkins, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilmember Jessica Lapin all were instrumental in helping make the Freedoms Park a reality.

This is New York state’s first memorial to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and celebrates his enduring world vision of Four Freedoms, immortalized by American artist Norman Rockwell. The design for the memorial was created by the world renowned architect, Louis I. Kahn. The park itself was nearly 40 years in the making since announced by then Mayor John V. Lindsey. The completion of this park is the realization of a dream held by many people. The design follows Louis Kahn’s original plans, but his untimely death in 1974 and financial difficulties suffered by New York City, put off the construction of the project until 2005. That year a group of private citizens organized a plan to renew the project.

Many regard FDR as the greatest president of the 20th century. “President Roosevelt was one of this nation’s most fearless and visionary leaders, and this park is a tribute to his legacy,” said Clinton. “I am proud to honor this president and his ideas, which have done so much for our nation and our world.”

Roosevelt guided our nation through the Great Depression, creating government jobs for the nation’s millions of unemployed, and World War II, a war to end tyranny that annihilated 6,000,000 Jews. “He was committed to ending the horrific crimes of the Holocaust and seek out and punish those offenders who didn’t respect the lives, the freedoms and religions of others,” said

Cuomo.

“FDR Four Freedoms Park is a monument to a great leader and our democratic ideals,” said Bloomberg.

“We look forward to New Yorkers and visitors enjoying the park’s beauty and celebrating the legacy of President Roosevelt.”

The park celebrates the four essential freedoms that were FDR’s vision for a better world, a world committed to Democracy. In his famous 1941 State of the Union address, 11 months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt spoke of The Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

A large “room”, the major feature of the park, overlooks the East River. This room is enclosed by granite blocks, each weighing 36 tons and placed one inch apart. This way visitors can view the city and the river beyond. Mounted at the entrance to the Room is a 1,000-pound bronze portrait of Roosevelt, created in 1933 by the American sculptor Jo Davidson. Facing the sculpture are Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, inscribed in the wall of granite by the stone carver Nicholas Benson.

Visitors to the FDR Memorial Park facing the wall of granite carved with the Four Freedoms will experience a beautiful site combining the visionary words of FDR and the United Nations Building standing just beyond the granite wall across the East River. Roosevelt is credited with inspiring the creation of the United Nations.

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