Generally, it is thought that there have been four most famous Presidents, whose faces were carved on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, representing the first 150 years of the American history.
George Washington, first President, who led the American people into independence, formulated the constitution and established the country. He has been called "father of the country". Thomas Jefferson, third President, was on committee to write the Declaration of Independence and became its principal author. After being elected President, he firmly believed the personal rights and freedom and pushed forward democratic politics. Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, enjoyed lofty reputation in the eyes of the American people. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy. He was therefore extolled as the "Great Emancipator of the Nation". Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President, was one of the most conspicuous heroes of the Spanish-American War. After he became the President, he brought new excitement and power to the Presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy.
Other people also hold that Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), 32nd President (1933-1945), should also be ranked as one of the most outstanding Presidents in the American history. He was the only President who had held office for 4 terms, from March 1933 until April 1945 when he died, his tenure being as long as 12 years. He once won a high support rate from the American people during as long as 7 weeks, which set a historic record.
The House and Library of FDR is the place where we must go every year. It is located at Hyde Park in the Hudson River Valley, containing 290 acres. It takes about an hour to drive to here from Pine Plains. Some people who live in Pine Plains also call this area Greater Pine Plains.
The school bus stopped at the doorway of the lobby. Pushing the double door open, we entered the lobby. On the floor in front of us, we could see a big plane map of Hyde Park which was put together with big floor tiles. The guide usually started his guiding explanation here. We had a lady as the guide this year.
The first stop was the Audio-Visual Room where visitors could watch a movie concerning the life of President Roosevelt. Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, FDR helped the American people regain faith in themselves. He brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The film they showed here was only in English, which had caused difficulties to the non-English-speaking visitors.
Having walked out of the lobby on the other side, we came to the expanse of the fields where the FDR Home was located. What first caught our sight was the sitting statues of President Roosevelt and his wife Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. It was interesting that the sculptor had saved a seat next to that of President Roosevelt in the settee specially for the visitor who would like to sit beside the President. The visiting teachers and students who came here would sit here and had pictures taken without previous arrangement. It was just as "Great minds think alike"!
Visitors need to walk a long way from here to the House, passing by the Library and the graveyard of President Roosevelt and his wife. Guided by the lady, we arrived at the House of FDR first.
The House of FDR is an elegant three-storey building with azure as the main tone of its exterior. In front of the door stand a few plane trees, which made the entire building assume an alternation of blue and green. That was a landscape in our imagination, because we came in a cold winter. We climbed the steps and got into the House through the porch with a semicircular roof. The furniture, paintings and decorations in the rooms were luxurious. Not far away there is a blue river. The local people told us that it was the source of Hudson River, their home town river.
After visiting the House of FDR, we walked along the way we had come. After a short while we reached the Presidential Library and Museum. The FDR Library is the first of the presidential libraries in the United States. He built it with privately donated funds and then turned it over to the federal government on July 4, 1940 to be operated by the National Archives. And, it was also the only library that had been used by an incumbent president. (Under normal circumstances, the presidential libraries of the United States are built only after the presidents leave office.)
In the library visitors can see his study where President Roosevelt used to deal with his work, the desk he used to work on in the White House, the Ford specially designed for him even if he was paralyzed in both legs, and the exhibition of his life and political achievements.
On the way from the House to the Library, visitors would pass by the graveyard of President Roosevelt and his wife. The graveyard, covering a small area, is encircled by pinewood. The cuboid marble grave lies on the ground without a tombstone. On the front wall of the grave is carved:
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSVELT
1882 — 1945
ANNA ELEANOR ROOSVELT
1884 — 1962
Nowadays, the House of FDR has become a tourist attraction open to visitors from various countries. The House is visited by thousands of people every year. It also becomes a base for "education in patriotism" of the United States, and is visited by the local students and the students all over the country.