||Sunday, July 25, 2004
Roosevelt's legacy is "an
Station houses FDR museum
Dr. Joseph J. Plaud,
left, president and founder of the FDR Center, and, in
the background from left, state Rep. Robert P. Spellane,
D-Worcester, Nick R. Roosevelt and James R. Roosevelt
Jr., sing the national anthem during yesterday's grand
(T&G Staff /BETTY
WORCESTER- Nick R. Roosevelt, a
great-grandson of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stood
by with a wide, Kennedy-esque smile yesterday as his uncle, James R.
Roosevelt Jr., cut the ceremonial gold ribbon opening the Franklin
D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center Museum in Union Station.
The snip of the scissors capped a patriotic ceremony
attended by about 220 people, many of them veterans of World War II,
for whom FDR is more a vivid memory than a historical figure. The
event started with the posting of the colors by the Vernon Hill
American Legion Post 435 Color Guard.
Speakers included U.S.
Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester; Robert Bullock, director of
institutional advancement at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
Institute in Hyde Park, N.Y.; state Rep. Robert P. Spellane,
D-Worcester; City Councilor Thomas P. White; and Edward Augustus,
Democratic candidate for Worcester's Second District Senate seat.
Author and workingman's hero Studs Terkel, 92, addressed the
audience by video, calling FDR "an inspiration of mine" and "the
best president of the last century."
Mr. McGovern noted that
FDR stopped at Union Station two times, so it seemed a perfect
choice for the location of the museum. He mentioned that, in his
office in the nation's capital, he has hanging on a wall FDR's four
freedoms, as depicted by Norman Rockwell: Freedom from fear, freedom
from want, freedom of speech and freedom to worship.
congressman said that FDR demonstrated that government can be a
force for good, pointing out that Social Security makes up half the
income of more than 60 percent of senior citizens.
forward to bringing my children to this museum," Mr. McGovern said,
gesturing to his 3-year-old daughter. "As she gets older, I want to
teach her about the legacy of FDR."
Stanley Bockstein of
Holden was among the World War II veterans who made up the audience.
He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in India, among other
locations, and is a member of the China, Burma and India
Association. He described the museum as "very important, very
"As a child of the 20th century, I want to
know as much as I can about the era I lived through," said Mr.
The museum is the brainchild of Dr. Joseph J.
Plaud, who, inspired by his grandmother, started collecting FDR and
New Deal memorabilia when he was a teenager.
Dr. Plaud, a
39-year-old forensic psychologist from Whitinsville, has since
amassed what is widely considered to be finest collection of its
kind in private hands. It includes hundreds of unique signed
documents, photographs and artifacts, which will be on display on a
rotating basis in the museum's quarters - not far from the jazz
club, Union Blues. Admission to the museum is free; donations are
Dr. Plaud, who keeps encyclopedic knowledge of FDR
in his head, said in his remarks that the former president greatly
valued museums and libraries. He quoted FDR as saying: "We must
believe in the past, we must believe in the future, and we must
believe in the capacity of people to learn so that they can gain in
judgment in creating their own future lives."
spirit, Dr. Plaud said, he worked for two years to open the museum
under the auspices of his nonprofit center dedicated to FDR's
legacy. A component of the museum, which is administered by
archivist Cyrus D. Lipsitt, will be educational programs for
children in the Worcester public schools. Scholars and students at
the city's colleges and universities will be able to use the rich
cache of historical materials.
Each of the speakers touched
on the role FDR played in lifting the country out of the Great
Depression. When he took office in 1933, FDR inspired hope with his
fireside chats and created great public works projects to put people
back to work.
"He had the courage and compassion to realize
what a man needed was a hand and not a handout," said Mr. White.
Mr. Bullock remarked that interest in the Roosevelts has not
diminished over time, and he anticipates years of collaboration
between the institute in Hyde Park, once the seat of the Roosevelt
family, and the new museum.
Presidential scholar and author
Stanley L. Klos last night gave the keynote address for the event.
In a telephone interview earlier in the week, Mr. Klos said that the
FDR center and its museum are important because "history is a
crystal ball of the future."
"What were the challenges of
the past and what worked and what didn't?" Mr. Klos said. "No one
went through more perilous times than FDR."
Mr. Klos said
that one of the key accomplishments of FDR was the electrification
of America. When he took office, 90 percent of homes had no
electricity, prompting people to forsake rural areas for the cities.
FDR created the rural electrical authorities, which brought power to
"He understood the key to prosperity was
inexpensive power," Mr. Klos said. "He bottled up the natural
FDR also was the impetus behind the Manhattan
Project, which split the atom, led to the development of the atom
bomb and ultimately harnessed nuclear power as an energy source.
Today, Mr. Klos said, demands on energy and oil are skyrocketing, as
people around the world seek to have disposable income and the type
of life we know in the United States, with automobiles and other
"Germany is only second behind us in
oil consumption," Mr. Klos said. "If China reaches the proportion of
people with cars that we have in the U.S., that will exhaust OPEC's
oil reserves. As our needs grow for more and more energy, we are
going to be in an extremely competitive field."
"He would realize that the world is now a
global economy, and there is a war of economics," Mr. Klos said.
"Yes, we're in a terrorist war right now, but the global war has
shifted to a competition for natural resources and quality of life."
In Mr. Klos' view, FDR would realize the key is weaning
ourselves off oil and its importation. He would be aware that the
electrical grid he put together wastes enormous amounts of energy
because it has not been upgraded and fails to make use of
"We could do what Japan, France and
Germany have done and use the next generation of breeder reactors
that are so efficient," Mr. Klos said. "FDR would be calling another
Manhattan Project to see, with our greatest minds, if we could find
a third form of energy and supply the needs of the United States and
prepare the country for the oil shortage that is coming in the next
As the morning's activities drew to a close,
Worcester writer and photographer Idamay Arsenault was presented
with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by Mr.
McGovern. Through her photography, Mrs. Arsenault is credited with
spearheading the renaissance at Union Station. Mr. McGovern also
presented Dr. Plaud with a flag flown over the Capitol.
Later, as guests milled around munching doughnuts and
cookies, Nick Roosevelt stood to one side while his uncle signed
autographs. The young Mr. Roosevelt is 18 and grew up in Berkeley,
Calif. He was headed to the Democratic National Convention in Boston
to serve as a volunteer. He is entering the University of
Pennsylvania in the fall and intends to major in history and
"All the Roosevelts, we all love history," he
said, flashing a grin.