Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945

Unemployment everywhere, system failure near.
Another day, another care. Pessimism, fear.
Enter Franklin Roosevelt: aristocrat, assured.
How could he know what poor folks felt, what they had endured?

Yet something in his confidence, conveyed in fireside chats,
His lordly tone and common sense, persuaded democrats.
He went to work immediately — he called a holiday —
Then S.E.C., F.D.I.C., and later triple A.

Pursuing, so the histories say, recovery and reform.
Relief, as well, through public work.
The critics yelled, “Those men just shirk.”
And “Who will pay?” and “This is wrong!”
Another way — Townsend and Long

Said “Help the old” and “Help the poor,”
While workmen bold, united, sure.
Without much tact, but with maturity.
Got the Wagner Act and Social Security.

No more hand-to-mouth for labor.
And south of the border we found Good Neighbors.
But across the seas danger pervaded:
China on its knees, Europe invaded.

The Rising Sun attacked Pearl Harbor’s ships.
Johnny got his gun. No more loose lips.
Kick ’em in the Axis. North African campaign.
Rationing and war taxes. Win at Alamein.

Coral Sea and Midway. The Italian fight.
Normandy was D-Day, Germans now in flight.
Leyte Gulf and Yalta — we had turned the tide.
But before the war was halted, FDR died.
Dr. New Deal became Dr. Win the War.
The commonwealth changed as it never had before.

-Joe Illick

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