Franklin Delano Roosevelt
A stone tablet to United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was unveiled at Westminster Abbey on 12th November 1948. It is situated on the west wall of the nave, near the grave of the Unknown Warrior and the memorial to Winston Churchill. The American eagle emblem is shown with a wreath of oak leaves. The sculptor was Herbert William Palliser. The inscription was written jointly by Prime Minister Clement Attlee and wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and reads:
To the honoured memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1882 1945 a faithful friend of freedom and of Britain. Four times President of the United States. Erected by the Government of the United Kingdom.
No head of state of a foreign country had been commemorated in the Abbey before. The tablet, covered by the Stars and Stripes, was unveiled by Attlee and Churchill. Mrs Roosevelt and many relatives were present at the short ceremony. Prime Minister Attlee said:
By dedicating this tablet to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this ancient shrine wherein so many famous men...have been laid to rest, we are setting on record the gratitude and admiration which the British people feel for the man who was their trusted friend in their time of need....
Mr Churchill also paid a short tribute. The Star Spangled Banner was played on the organ.
Franklin was born at Hyde Park, New York on 30th January 1882, son of James and Sara. He attended Harvard University and Columbia law school. On 17th March 1905 he married Eleanor, a daughter of Elliott Roosevelt, a brother of President Theodore Roosevelt. FDR entered politics in 1910 and was assistant secretary of the Navy. In 1921 he was struck down with polio but fought bravely to walk again and in 1928 became governor of New York. His four terms of office as President began in 1932. He brought the American people through the Great Depression. His health worsened during the war years and he died on 12th April 1945 at Warm Springs, Georgia.
By Elias Goldensky (1868-1943) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster