Springwood, Hyde Park, NY
In these days of constant hyper-political debate, it is perhaps fitting for those of the progressive ideological persuasion to visit Springwood, the Mecca of the modern Democrat Party’s inspiration; and, at the same time, pay homage to the man who did much to change the wordage and thrust of our civic dialogue while fighting hard to preserve America’s global dominance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt led his nation during most of WWII. No one today would deny him his considerable due for the Allies’ eventual victory over the Axis Powers. Sadly, he did not live to see the end of the war. He died of natural causes almost a month to the day before Hitler committed suicide. Times have changed considerably since then as no modern Democrat candidate would consider it advantageous to be known as “The War President” as Roosevelt was.
His home and final resting place was Springwood, located in Hyde Park, NY. After his death in 1945, his wife, Eleanor, and her children donated the site to the National Park Service.
Every time I’ve visited there, Springwood Mansion was in the process of undergoing some kind of renovation, but the views of the Hudson Valley from the back of the house remain unchanged and spectacular.
The compound now includes the Henry Wallace Visitor’s Center, complete with souvenir and coffee shops. Just outside, there is a life-sized depiction of Eleanor and Franklin relaxing outdoors that leaves room for anyone so inclined to sit beside them. There is a rose garden, as well as a dramatic modern sculpture constructed from bits and pieces of the Berlin Wall by the granddaughter of Roosevelt’s British ally, Winston Churchill. The caption reads, “FREEDOM FROM FEAR”, a reference to the American President’s famous quotation about fear being unavoidable. In addition, the Park contains FDR’s Presidential Library and Museum.
Admittance to the grounds is free. Guided tours of Springwood Mansion, Top Cottage (where visiting dignitaries were routinely entertained), the Library and Museum, Eleanor’s home and the nearby Vanderbilt estate, however, can add up to a tidy sum. For directions and additional information go to: http://www.nps.gov/hofr/index.htm
Hyde Park is a popular destination for the elderly – the blue-haired ladies and their now somewhat grizzled, mustachioed men – who, their memories of the period failing, still seek the caress of the echo of that tumultuous period in U.S. history that defined their youth. The people elected Franklin Roosevelt – a man of impeccable loyalties who would steer the great American Ship of State with a steady hand over the dangerous shoals of global dysfunction and treachery (though his own body was already broken and in steep decline) – to no less than four consecutive terms. His reassuring words (fireside chats) to the nation helped to give it the strength to confront and defeat the evil that had come into the world. From then on, their vote would overwhelmingly favor the Democrats.
The young too come – not in (tour) bus-size groups, but one by one; or in twos at most. They come, but not for the same reasons. Thoughtful, almost reverential in demeanor, they are seeking to forge some tangible connection to their innate liberal leanings. I noted idealism shining in their eyes. It was far brighter than the fading light of the graybeard nostalgia seekers.
- Peter Koelliker
- Peter Koelliker
Springwood photo attachment# 1:
1. The War President
2. Springwood Mansion
3. The Hudson Valley
4. Presidential Library
5. Visitors’ Center
6. Two-Tone Barn
Springwood photo attachment# 2:
1. Winston Churchill
2. Where the milk was delivered
3. Rose Bed
4. In Good Company
5. Hot House