Thursday, January 3, 2013

More on Hyde Park

Our family disagrees as to what was our favorite stop during our quick trip to New York. For Sherry and the kids, it was the Vanderbilt Mansion. For me, it was FDR's home.

Occasionally one just comes across a place that just happened to be a stage for some of history's most meaningful acts. That is the powerful sense one gets from FDR's home. Guests in the home include Chiang Kai-shek, King George VI, and Winston Churchill. Oh, and let's not forget the host of advisers and cabinet members who met with the president there. In many ways, I felt like I was in the home where the course of the 20th century was determined.

I'll visit again. It meant that much to me. I'm interested in what another guide can offer. The guide we had was quite good; ironically, that's why I'd like to see the home with another one. When these guides are on top of their game, they don't give the same tour every day. They focus on what part of the historical story is most compelling. For our guide, FDR's disability most intrigued him (and motivated several good anecdotes on the tour). But when prompted, he offered very good insight as to the politics that took place in the house or the way in which the physical property changed over the years.

Franklin Roosevelt is a figure that for a long time I tried to resent and dislike. As I got the opportunity to teach about him to students, I came to really appreciate him as a leader. Perhaps what FDR represents to me is greatness, in much the same way Lincoln and Washington represent greatness. But greatness doesn't imply complete agreement with the man, his policies, or even his legacy. I can disagree with some of those things he did, but still revere and respect the kind of leadership he provided the country at a time when leadership was sorely desired.

1 comment:

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

We saw Hyde Park on Hudson the other night. It was fascinating. We plan a visit in the spring.