Franklin D. Roosevelt & His Persistent Nature Demonstrates How to Live in 2020

  • Sep - 03 - 2020
  • Donna Catapano

Franklin D. Roosevelt & His Persistent Nature Demonstrates How to Live in 2020
By: Donna Catapano

We remember Franklin D. Roosevelt for who he was to his family, his country and the world. There are
many words Americans, and people around the world, would use to describe Franklin: heroic, brave,
resilient and charming just to name a few.

I remember him for his persistence. Ever since he was a child growing up in Hyde Park, New York on a
gorgeous estate on the Hudson River, he persisted. As a young student at Harvard, Franklin persisted in
being an active member of the academic community even if his grades were not the best. The young
socialite persisted in wanting to help those less fortunate than he. He persisted in working hard, and
changing the face of the Democratic party forever.

Like many others, I cannot help but think about how Franklin would have dealt with the crises of 2020.
The coronavirus has had a global devastating effect socially, politically and economically, and I read how
many people are thinking about how FDR would have handled all of this.

Franklin would have kept persisting. He would have kept pushing through. He learned to be persistent
through his many challenges and adversities in his childhood and adult life, despite his socioeconomic

Growing up, he was the “black sheep” of the family; he always seemed to stand out. Regardless, he
persisted with his charming nature and flourished athletically. His family and those close to him often
referred to him as a “feather duster”: gliding over things without actually touching them. This can possibly
insinuate that the young man initiated things without finishing the job.

That did not stop the Dutchess county native from becoming Assistant Secretary of the Navy during one of
the largest conflicts in American history. The defeat of the 1920 Election as James Cox running mate &
contracting polio at age 39 in 1921 did not stop him. Some say polio caused Franklin to grow more
serious- more patient. He persisted, and reemerged into political life in 1924 to support Al Smith for
President of the United States. He did not stop there. In 1928, even after years of intense rehabilitation in
Hyde Park and Warm Springs, GA, the 46 year-old Roosevelt ran for and was elected Governor of New
York. The man had left political life to deal with a paralyzing disease, and still decided to persist.
“Most men spend time pacing back and forth, second guessing themselves. I can’t pace”, Franklin would
say. He had no time to second-guess himself. When he decided to do something, he did it- regardless of
the circumstances or difficulties. This mindset glided him into a sweeping victory against President Herbert
Hoover in the 1932 Election, during the largest economic crisis in American history.

His persistence as president was bigger than ever; persisting his way into getting his New Deal programs
passed by Congress, initiating the largest economic recovery the country has seen. When Americans
cried, FDR listened. He kept on going, reaching out to the American people through his fireside chats that
citizens tuned into from their living rooms. He ran, and won, a second, third, and even fourth, term. He
held America’s hand while it may have wanted to wave the white flag.

Even as his physical health was on a rapid decline, he persisted into protecting America and its allies
through the Second World War, until he succumbed to his illnesses one month before VE (Victory in
Europe) Day, and four months before VJ (Victory in Japan) Day at age 63.

So, what does this all mean in 2020? We can learn a lot from one of if not the most influential individuals
of the 20th century. Even though life now is very different from when Mr. Roosevelt lived and was
president, he and his persistent nature can still set an example for us now. Even though the
circumstances are different, and we may not all have a life similar to FDR, his experiences and
misfortunes is something that can help us get through a global pandemic. He can show us that things may
not go away overnight, but they will go away. They will get better. Sometimes, it may get worse before it
gets better. Regardless, our persistence must stay the same. President Roosevelt would have wanted
just that.