FDR, and Lindbergh

[Working backward from the year 2000 toward America’s beginnings.]


Like John F. Kennedy later, Franklin Roosevelt was more than an American politician and statesman. Something in his demeanor and what he was thought to stand for caught people’s imagination. They invested hope in him. When he died, the crowds in England stood stunned, or wept, and felt as bereaved as if they had lost a member of their own family – and this was before television brought moving, talking images into the home. If they felt they knew Roosevelt, it was from the movie newsreels, and from the newspapers and radios, and from the feeling that they had that he had been the friend of the things they believed in, and had, therefore, been a friend to them. Wilson, as we shall see, was popular for a while, and the common people put their trust in him. But Roosevelt caught their imagination and their affection and their trust as no American had done since Lincoln, and none would do again until Kennedy, and perhaps Eisenhower.

For one thing, there was the spectacle of his fighting the good fight against the forces of reaction, as he set Congress to restructuring the American political landscape. Regulation of the stock market, of the banking industry, of monopolies, of so many aspects of what had been until then a comfortable club making its own rules to suit itself. And there was his personal struggle to overcome the polio that had struck him down before he was 40, turning a tall, athletic, vigorous young patrician into a wheelchair-bound cripple. He had fought his way back from paralysis, finding and developing Warm Springs, Georgia, as a hospital for the similarly afflicted. (Remember the March of Dimes? That was a Roosevelt conception, organized not only for research into the cure of polio but specifically to support Warm Springs.)

And, more than anything else, perhaps, Roosevelt was revered as the linchpin of American assistance to those fighting the Axis powers. Though he dared not intervene in Spain, he was soon intervening to the edge of the law and beyond it, to weaken Hitler and strengthen the Allies. Lend-Lease, American patrols of the Western Atlantic, the Atlantic Charter, and always his encouragement of coalitions of powers against the Nazis. No less than Churchill – and even more important, because leading the only country that could defeat Germany – he was the father figure many a European leaned on.

Another American icon appeared in the years before the war, before Roosevelt, before the Great Depression, while the twenties were still roaring. He was a shy, modest 25-year-old boy, and he electrified the world with one 33-hour-long feat of skill, luck and endurance.



A few months after the end of World War I, a man named Orteig had offered $25,000 to the first person to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Eight years later, the Orteig prize remained unclaimed, but several people were racing to be the first. They were all well known except the boy.

In September, 1926, a three-engine biplane carrying a three-men team led by French World War I ace Rene Fonck crashed and burned on takeoff, killing the two crewmen. The following April, two famed U.S. Naval aviators, testing another three-engine biplane, died when their plane, too, crashed on takeoff. In early May, French war heroes Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli disappeared at sea on a westward flight from Paris in a seaplane.

Two weeks later, three more airplanes were preparing to fly east from Long Island. One was a two-man team led by American air racer Clarence Chamberlin, and the other was a four-man team led by Commander (later Rear Admiral) Richard Byrd. The third was not a team but a lone 25-year-old pilot who, the year before, had been flying the air mail route between St. Louis and Chicago, and his airplane was a single-engine overhead-wing monoplane whose design and construction he had overseen during the winter.

He had much less flying experience than any of the others, none of it over water. He was financing the flight on a $15,000 bank loan, a $1,000 donation from his employer at Lambert Field, St. Louis, and his own small savings. He had had to teach himself great-circle navigation, because he was afraid that if he asked the military to teach him, he would be forbidden to make the attempt. In order to keep down inessential weight, he was flying without a radio. That meant that from eight a.m. May 20, 1927, all through the day and the long night and a good part of the next day, there was no way for the world to know if he was still alive and in the air, or had joined the six who had been killed in the weeks just past.

After that long night, he was spotted over the coast of Ireland, then over England, and then, at nearly 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, he landed at Le Bourget field in Paris, and he and his frail craft were overrun by a hysterically welcoming mob estimated at 150,000 people. The effect his successful flight produced was perhaps proportional to the anxiety caused by the long night – and the dead airmen who had preceded him.

The French Foreign Office flew the American flag for him, President Coolidge sent a Navy cruiser to bring him and his airplane home. The Post Office issued an Air Mail stamp in his honor. He was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City. He was Time magazine’s first “Man of the Year.” His book We, published within months, sold 650,000 copies within a year, earning him a quarter of a million dollars. The boy his friends had always called Slim was being called Lucky Lindy, and The Lone Eagle.

His influence on aviation was phenomenal. Applications for pilot’s licenses in the U.S. tripled. The number of licensed aircraft quadrupled. The number of airline passengers grew 3,000%, to 173,405 in 1929, from 5,782 in 1926. Aviatrix Elinor Smith Sullivan later said that Lindbergh’s flight changed aviation forever because “after Lindbergh, suddenly everyone wanted to fly, and there weren’t enough planes to carry them.”

For more – much more — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Lindbergh

Oh, and those other two teams that we left on Long Island waiting to fly? Chamberlain made it from New York to Germany in a 43 hour flight two weeks later. Byrd and his team left on June 29, reached Paris on July 1, and, being unable to land there due to weather conditions, wound up ditching in the ocean off Normandy. They both succeeded in making the crossing, and they did it within weeks of Lindbergh’s solo flight. But it didn’t matter. That flight – and something in his winning personality — made Charles A. Lindbergh into an icon, not only in his own country but all through Europe and around the world. And that fame lasted. More than 25 years later, he won a Pulitzer Price with The Spirit of St. Louis, which, among other things, told of his out-of-body experience and spiritual contacts during that long night over the North Atlantic.


11 thoughts on “FDR, and Lindbergh

  1. Reading your sessions on reality and then reading your histories makes me try to reconcile the two. Also, I just heard an NPR interview with the author of a new book on Churchill and the Boer War, and the author describes how Churchill put his reality first, not following everyone else’s. Clearly these larger-than-life figures are living closer to their own realities than most of us. So interesting to see how its done.

  2. Jane, you are bringing up something very interesting stough here (at least to me that is). A couple of months ago a BBC-produced documentary about the life of Churchills` on TV here with us.
    As always the BBC documentaries seems very well documented as well as very objective. The Producers deep-diving into old archieves and old black & white films. I am ever admiring how the englishmen in to become able to save and to keeping, all the old records about EVERYTHING laboured in the history(talking about the Akashic records when it comes to the english, and you`ll find it it in U.K.), all the old kept materials are absolutely fantastic.

    Well, the last documentary about Churchill to have watched, gave me quite another view upon the story about Churchill. Among the english population about him too. Likewise his way of behaviour(as a drunkyard) told about him, according to his commanding stab/officers working with Churchill during the two wars.
    According to his staff, as told on TV, in the told the old archieves; Churchill was using the alcohol all the time, and even during his public speeches (the broadcasting on the radio) likewise. Some old peoples were interviewed and they could recall especially, one of Churchills famous speeches on the radio(all over U.K. the families listening), that by his voice, Churchull obviously was drunk. According to the old english working-class peoples(among the english population) Churchill was not popular at all. Therefore Churchills “fall” from the politics soon after the war. Chuchill felt himself “betrayed and abadoned.” Churchill were an Aristocrate and not “a working-class-man.” There was “him” and looking down upon the lower classes as “them/-all the others.” They had to learn “to know their own place.”

    But by all means, as they told in the end, not to take away the matter of fact, that Churchill was a genious with his stubborness and his will “to never surrender.” According to the same documentary his blunders (he did a lot of unknown blunders) in the Boer-War also were among the same “blunders” as the British aristocracy always “to have done.”

    I have read some old books written by Churchill himself, about his life from his point of view, of course. He was a very good writer by all means. In my youth he was one of my “heroes.”
    I can “hear” the eccho of his famous speach: “We shall NEVER surrender.”

    BTW: I am thinking over and over again how peculiar it is how the peoples in all “times,” both the old, and the new ones, looking all differently upon the history(as wel as the happenings nowadays in our “time”).
    Came to recall Rita & Frank (and us) has been talking about the same matters once before I think ? Such as the need of “to develop” our psychic senses to see it more clearly I`ll guess.

  3. He was certainly arrogant. Reminded me of the movie “Hyde Park on Hudson,” with Bill Murray as FDR. It tells the story of his seduction of his cousin Daisy (referred to in her letters and journal from the time), showing this four-time elected president as a very human man in search of replacements for the things his polio took from him. These powerful men made such an impression on our times, it does seem such a contradiction to find them weak or needy or lonely. How well are they dealing with the forces that flow through them? Better than I could have I think. I’m going to try to find your documentary.

    1. Guess what Jane ? I have newly learned the same about FDR…A documentary about Eleanor Roosevelt and her work “behind the lines” so to speak. Their marriage became very “intricate” it seems.
      Here comes a bit of the history you do not know about. In 1939 the norwegian Crown-Prince and his wife, the swedish princess Martha, did a journey to the U.S., and became good friends with the Roosevelts. Our Norwegian Crown-Prince was a grandson of the English King Edward the 7th and his “Danish wife”, Queen Alexandra (who was a Danish princess before the marriage with King Edward of England).

      Well, as becomig VERY GOOD friends with Franklin D. Roosevelt (which became very important to the Norwegian Royal Family)….as Norway became occupied by Nazi-Germany in the spring, the year after visiting U.S.A. ….. The Royal family fled up country with the nazi troops “on their heels.” The ormer Swedish princees and their three small kids managed to escape over to the Swedish border(The Swedes would not let them into Sweden at first, or to let them passing over the border at first, even Martha showing them their Swedish Passport. The Swedish Guardswould not open the gate for them……Because of the Swedish Royal Family & Politics in Sweden at the time did the co-operating “operations” together with Hitler at the time(especially in the first two years of the war. Sweden let the German troops using their Swedish Railways to fall the Norwegian Restistance-movement in ambush). Therefore the Norwegian Royal family was not wanted into Sweden. They would have given the Swedish King a lot of trouble if to let them to stay in Sweden (the Swedish King was Crown-Princess Martha`s uncle).
      As the Swedish politics would NOT having the Norwegian folks there !
      Okay, the story about Crown-Princess Martha and her three small children ending up in The White House(what a destiny !!!), and livig among the Roosevelt-family in 5 years uptill the war ended.
      Back then, Roosevelt gave order in picking up Marha & children from Finland. And they managed to flee through Finland where an american Merchan-Ship waiting for bringing the Norwegian family over the Atlantic to the U.S. ( this was in 1940 before U.S. declaring war).
      Our nowadays King Harald became raised in U.S.A. ( King Harald is 81 years old by now ). We have watched another documentary about the five years when they were living in the U.S. And many films together with the Roosevelts`…..
      P.S. Sweden was german-friendly at the time . ….. But later on, in 1943, Sweden did “a boomerang” turn, after the fall of the Nazi-Armies in Russia, Leningrad, in 1943, and then Sweden all of a sudden became a friend of the allies. Smart as always. (laughs)

      1. Fascinating material about the Norwegian royal family living in the White House. But I wouldn’t be too hard on the Swedes. Like the Swiss, they were in an impossible situation, and their neutrality not only saved them from being destroyed and occupied, but allowed them to quietly be of use to the allies. Like the Swiss, they did not defy the Germans until it became safe to do so. Lots of other countries, like Holland, for instance, would have been glad to be able to do the same!

        1. Frank, indeed it is all forgiven….no harm feelings the Norwegians and the Swedes are too much related of blood-ties, centuries back in time ! We are the very same folk-group(as with the danes). We are having the very same close bonds as England, Scotland and Ireland. Talking the same language but different accents & dialects as among the British population.

          But what you do not know about the two first years of the war….The Swedes sending BACK the Norwegian refugees, those who managed to escape and flee from Norway. The two first years of the war sending the fugitives back into Norway again and into “the arms” of the nazi-polize/-and torturists, and they to become tortured and a certain death……
          Not easy easy to forgive by the families who experienced it….. Quite a personal challenge ! The Swedes are our brothers and the Norwegians felt “betrayed” by them.

          Well, anyway, it is all over and belonging “to the past.” The new generations are not interested in the history at all, and maybe it is well and good.

          1. I do know about that. All i can say is the the Swedes did many things they wouldn’t have done if they weren’t in fear of their lives, which is something that may be said of us all. I forget who it was, some Swedish official or diplomat, who told somebody that Sweden would declare war on the Germans in an instant, if they didn’t know that Stockholm would be turned into rubble as Rotterdam had been. Hard choices.

      2. Awful about the Norwegian Resistance Movement. So much courage lost. We were late to enter the war, too. I found a Churchill quote from a letter to his wife on the eve of Britain entering the war: “Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be built like that?” Interesting to read that in light of the material we’re getting here.

        1. Absolutely interesting indeed Jane.
          I am convinced Churchill was “the right man for the right time”( the right person for the war-time).

          Hm, quite amazing about what occuring about The New TOPIC arising all of a sudden among us……and as Frank oftentimes says: Wonder WHAT is next…..
          or what`s “coming up next” ? Right now in us talking about the history of the politics, and a bit witty it is when thinking it all over.
          And a Seth quote: “All you see about you IS your own projection.” Another quote: “And all you see is the mirror of what`s made AT FIRST ” in Framework II.”
          I have to be reminded about it all the time that`s for sure….(smiling).

          1. P.S. Thank you Frank in being very kind, but sad to say the Swedes has been some Smart Guys always.
            Throughout the long history among us, as Denmark and Norway in union for 500 years, knowing their brotherly neighbor, Sweden, very well( always a war between us)…
            All along since a couple of thousand years back in time…..And as Sweden`s two neighbours Denmark and Norway in union, to know Sweden as the enemy throughout the long history… Therefore Denmark and Norway are used to the ambush-tricks by the Swedes. In the hard times of old, we learned not to have any trust in them, ha, ha (it is told in the history-books)……It is not the first time throughout the history among us….Laughs !
            Sweden became pretty mad at Norway in 1905 when declaring freedom from Sweden after 90 years of time, and very close to a war, but Engand supporting Norway and then Sweden did not dare to begin a war.
            (In 1805 Denmark lost a battle and were forced to give Norway away to Sweden). And after the 500 years in union with Denmark, the Norwegians to become more Danish-imprinted than Swedish.
            My mother`s side of the family have several Swedish relatives…Cousins.
            And some VERY nice and very good long-time swedish friends in 47 years in my surroundings(from the many years working together at the Scandinavian Airlines), ALL THREE COUNTRIES IN COMMONNESS doing the work together as the very best friends. No borders between us anymore.
            P.S. The old times are gone and we do have become united as three nations of the many new colors among us (the new inhabitants)…..The new times are here.

          2. It has me thinking about communicating with different people from different places, communicating about people in a different time and place, all of us connected by a common interest or enthusiasm or emotion or experience. “It is much more a matter of where your consciousness centers, than any other single difference,” Frank wrote this morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.