Independence Day at Dodona Manor: The Four Freedoms

During Independence Day reflections at Dodona Manor on Saturday, George C. Marshall International Center board member Tom Greenspon took visitors back to 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined four freedoms that would become foundational post-war international principles.

In January 1941, Marshall’s wife, Katherine, was establishing the recently acquired Leesburg property as a weekend respite for the Army chief of staff. 

“She imagined they might come out here for weekends and it might become their permanent home after his tour of duty as the chief of staff ended. Even in the January cold, she was imagining summer flowers and what this place might look like today,” Greenspon said.

But across the oceans, Japanese aggression was increasing, and the Nazi army had overrun Europe and begun the blitzkrieg bombings of London.

Marshall wasn’t thinking about the gardens he would plant at Dodona Manor.

“His first task was to build an army because of the possibility that the United States might soon be drawn into a war on foreign shores,” Greenspon said, noting the standing army had only 174,000 men, ranking as the 19thlargest in the world.

While Marshall built the army that would be called into wartime duty before the end of the year, Roosevelt’s State of the Union address to congress looked forward to a post-war era of international cooperation.

At the end of his speech, Roosevelt proposed four freedoms to which people everywhere in the world are fundamentally entitled: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. This speech was the inspiration for the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Tom Greenspon, president emeritus of the George C. Marshall International Center, highlighted the significance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech during a July 4, 2020, address on the steps of Dodona Manor in Leesburg.

“These are strong words and themes so clearly stated in January 1941 that we now consider them to be essential American values. It is only fitting that we gather to apricate them on a day such as today, our 244th Independence Day,” Greenspon said.

He said the remarks also were intended as a call to arms, but the strong isolationist sentiment in the nation and its government delayed that action until the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“The question of America’s involvement was never truly resolved, but the great debate ended, as we all know, on Dec. 7, 1941.Not by an act of choice or by some national consensus, but because of a hostile act of aggression thrust Americans into war without their consent.”

Two days later, Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States.

“Americans had to fight to protect these freedoms and their very lives whether they wanted to or not,” Greenspon said.

Norman Rockwell painted illustrations of the Four Freedoms in 1943, which were used to support war-time bond campaigns. Reproductions were on display at Dodona Manor following the program, with docents on hand to explain the significance of each.

Flanked by Norman Rockwell’s illustrations, Tom Greenspon highlights the significance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech during a July 4, 2020, address on the steps of Dodona Manor in Leesburg.
Dodona Manor docent Chang Liu discusses the significance of Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom of Worship” illustration during a July 4, 2020, program at Dodona Manor highlight the significance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 Four Freedoms speech.
Dodona Manor docent Rich Ivey discusses the significance of Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Fear” illustration during a July 4, 2020, program at Dodona Manor highlight the significance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 Four Freedoms speech.

Certainly, this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy.

The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple.They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment—The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world.The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.As examples:

We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

I have called for personal sacrifice, and I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call.A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes.In my budget message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today.No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

If the Congress maintains these principles the voters, putting patriotism ahead pocketbooks, will give you their applause.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom ofspeechand expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person toworshipGod in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom fromwant, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom fromfear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium.It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception—the moral order.A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch.The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them.Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

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