I hope that you are all watching, or have already watched, PBS latest documentary from Ken Burns, "The Roosevelts, An Intimate History". Like much of Burns' work, this is a massive effort - a fourteen hour film broadcast over seven nights. The show ran from September 14-20 on PBS. With one exception, I was unable to see any of it when it actually aired, so we are relying on the DVR to watch this one.
So far, we have seen episodes One through Four, and I did cheat a bit and watched the last hour of the final episode last Saturday night. We are hoping to wrap up seeing the entire series by the end of this week.
It is a very, very good series. If you are into American history, and Presidential history in particular, it really is a must see event for you. I look forward to attaching this series in full, but I will leave you with these few impressions so far:
- The series made me realize how little I actually knew about Theodore Roosevelt. His accomplishments as President are amazing, and he is one guy to whom the cliche "larger than life" can appropriately be applied.
- Many of the elements that we attach to the modern notion of the Presidency began with Teddy Roosevelt.
- The series spends a great deal of time discussing the period of FDR's life when he contracted polio. He was between political jobs at the time, and was considered the front runner for the Democratic nomination for President in 1924. That didn't happen, as we know, but how he dealt with his diagnosis, and his attempts at rehabilitation were covered in great depth. His association with the mineral waters in Warm Springs, GA and his work with other polio victims were amazing to me. Heroic, really.
The show triggered a long forgotten memory of mine. It was 1962. We were sitting in our living room one evening, probably watching TV, and my mother was upstairs with the radio on. At one point she yelled down the stairs to my Dad "Frank, Eleanor died." No last name was needed. After watching the series, it became so obvious to me how the single name, and the woman herself, resonated with people of my parents generation.