In October 2017, I took a walk around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC to see two memorials that I hadn’t visited before. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial was opened in 1997 and spread out under shade trees with walking paths and lawn areas. The impressive and massive Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Memorial was on a smaller area of stone and granite and crowded with throngs of onlookers.
The centerpiece for the memorial is based on a line from King's "I Have A Dream" speech: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." A 30 foot high relief of Martin Luther King named the Stone of Hope stands past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the "mountain of despair." Visitors figuratively "pass through" the Mountain of Despair on the way to the Stone of Hope, symbolically "moving through the struggle as Dr. King did during his life." There is also the Inscription Wall which has engraved fourteen quotes from King's speeches, sermons, and writings.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. The longest-serving U.S. President, FDR led the country through the Great Depression and WWII.
As with the MLK Memorial, the FDR Memorial has a number of walls with engravings of FDR’s famous quotes including “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” among others. The memorial took over 20 years to complete. Some of the bronze sculptures made an impression on me, because my grandparents and parents talked about those times, which were the Fireside Chat, Breadline from the Great Depression, the rural farming family suffering from the effects of drought, dust bowls, and poverty, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who became the first United States delegate to the United Nations.
As far as FDR himself, there is a bronze statue of him in a wheelchair after being paralyzed with an illness in the early 1920’s and another of him wearing a cloak obscuring his chair. Alongside him sits his beloved pet dog, Fala (the only presidential pet to be memorialized).
A bas-relief sculpture titled "Social Programs,” incorporates images of the 54 programs begun under FDR and the New Deal on 5 wall panels and corresponding bronze cylinders with the mold, or negative, version of the panel images. At the Visitors Center there is a reproduction of the wheelchair that FDR designed himself.