FDR's Wheelchair

Is it historically accurate to show FDR (in his monument) in his wheelchair, given that he did in fact use a wheel chair?

Or is it inaccurate, given that he was never seen publicly in a wheelchair when he was president?

Or does supporting the idea that somebody in a wheelchair can still be president override the question of historical accuracy?

He used it. Show him in the wheelchair. I don’t think it detracts from him in the slightest.

FWIF, his surviving family members were initially opposed to the wheelchair style monument…they have since changed their mind.

I’ve been thinking about this issue quite a bit recently, since it has received a lot of news coverage. I would say it is historically accurate, because he did in fact use a wheelchair.

And I also think the idea that somebody in a wheelchair could be President is a fine idea to support, especially since it is not only true in theory, it has been shown to be true in practice.

But then, this is not a statue of somebody in a wheelchair, it is a statue of FDR in a wheelchair. It’s my understanding that the policy of his not appearing in public in the wheelchair started with FDR himself. It’s not as if he was a pioneer in presenting the dignity and success of wheelchair users. The times were different, society was different … today, with the greater volume of media footage of the US president, combined with a greater understanding of the abilities of wheelchair users, FDR might have fashioned himself a champion and symbol of persons with handicaps. Then again, he might still have been a sort of cranky guy who didn’t like to be seen in his wheelchair.

So for the monument, I think it’s accurate, and it represents important ideas about our society and how we view people with disabilities. I don’t think these ideas have much to do with the presidency of FDR. I’m going to take the board view of monuments and say that they are often most effective when they speak to both their subject (FDR) and their time (now, when we are creating the monument, we have a greater understanding and respect for persons in wheelchairs). I would hope that the monument site makes it clear in some way that FDR attempted to hide the fact that he used the wheelchair to show the difference between his time and ours.

If I were designing the monument, I would try to create a space so that from one angle, FDR appeared to be in a wheelchair, and from the other, he appeared to be without it, nicely illustrating the contrast between how he was seen in public and in private. Hey, why isn’t anyone asking me to design monuments? Maybe I should look into a career change.

del -

They had already done that. In the original status of FDR at the memorial, he had wheels on the char he’s sitting in. Were they real prominent? No. But they weren’t in the 1930’s, either.

I have a REAL problem with people revising monuments to suit today’s sensibilities. I also think the new statue, if people really wanted it, could have been placed in a different location at the memorial.

Next up on the revisionist front…putting up a little education hut in the middle of the Vietnam Memorial. And no, I am NOT kidding. They are seriously considering this. sighs

How is it historically inaccurate to present something that actually happened? If for some bizarre reason it was decided that there should be a Gene Simmons statue, would it be historically inaccurate to have the statue have no makeup?

Falcon: what sort of education hut? What’s wrong with it?

I’m sorry, I was against putting a statue up near the Wall. That monument is perfect the way it is. NOTHING should go up near it, IMO. One of those tacky little huts “explaining” the monument would detract from it. The starkness of the names on the wall is all that’s needed.

Of course, I could be wrong.

I don’t have any difficulty presenting historical figures in a factually accurate way. That helps us understand them and their accomplishments in a deeper, more meaningful way.

That said, I think FDR was very badly served by this particular sculpture. Judging only from the news pictures (and I admit it may look very different in person), the sculpture appears to be mainly of the wheelchair, not of Roosevelt. There’s some kind of humanoid body with a hat and blank glasses on it that sort of look, in profile, like some old photos, but that’s it. There’s no sense that you could look at the sculpture’s face and get any idea of who it was or what he thought and felt or what he did. It’s a cartoon.

I hope not. The Wall speaks for itself, along with the sculpture of the 3 soldiers with the thousand-yard stare seeming to be reading the names of their friends.

The laughable political correctness of the FDR statue doesn’t end with the wheelchair.

Remember: Franklin Roosevelt NEVER appeared in public with a wheelchair. And he NEVER appeared in public without a cigarette!

So, I have to ask… where’s FDR’s legendary cigarette in his trademark cigarette holder?

Apparently, we have to pretend that FDR never smoked and that he was a willing role model for the disabled. Sigh!

I gotta disagree with you, Falcon.
The names alone are enough for those who already know something about the war but for those who don’t it tells them nothing more than a lot of soldiers died there. Perhaps the information booth could be set back from the monument to avoid detracting from it’s grandeur.

And astorian, while the fudging of the truth isn’t commendable, it isn’t unusual either.
Monuments are created to fill the ideological needs of their day. They do not represent the way it was, but rather the way it’s creators thought things should have been.

I’ve been to see the new addition to the FDR memorial, and I think that the exhibit would have been better served by putting in a sculpture of…just the wheelchair, exactly to scale.

I feel this would make the experience more interactive…visitors could sit in the chair and get a feel for FDR’s perspective from it…walk a mile in his shoes, as it were.

The chair by itself would have more poignancy and meaning than the chair with a “humanoid figure” in it…

All four wheels of the chair are on the ground, meaning that FDR died of natural causes. If he had died in war, two wheels would have to be in the air.


I always thought he should be without wheelchair, but with an explanation on the wall behind him of the attitudes of the time and FDR’s own sensitivity to be portrayed in any way helpless or weak.

But don’t get me started on that whole monument to cement. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Surely we can honor the family without ripping up that much of the Mall? (And as for that WWII one…(trailing off into a growl).

Here’s a picture of it. From the side, it looks awful, but from the front it’s not too bad.

If he had worn contact lenses in public, but glasses in private, would the statue have him wearing glasses? And if so, why?

IMO, the existing monument, with the not-so-obvious wheels, is the most accurate way to portray FDR.

I have a serious problem with showing him in a state he did not want the public to see him in. IMO, showing him in a blatant wheelchair is about as respectful as putting up a statue of Bill Clinton with Lewinsky playing his saxophone, if you know what I mean.:wink:

Beagledave’s ironic comment is, unfortunately, inaccurate. He died as Commander-in-Chief during the last days of World War II, and most newspapers, as a tribute, started their lists of War Dead for the day/week with his name.

Although having his monument showing him doing a wheelie somehow lacks in dignity… :wink:

It shows him as he truly was. I know if they made a monument about me I would want it to be me with a tequila bottle in one hand and my penis in the other.
Anyways, I’d be cool to take pictures on his lap, telling him what I want for christmas or for the ladies, giving him a lapdance.:smiley: