len's masthead




londoner editor pic





I just finished reading a wonderful book, "The Man He Became, How FDR defied Polio to win the Presidency.í Franklin Roosevelt was related to President Theordore Roosevelt and lived a life of wealth and privilege.

As fate would have it when he was 39 years of age he lost the use of his legs because of Polio. At the time there was little help against the virus that had ravaged mostly young children.

Married to Eleanor the couple had six children. With her help along with many other medical professionals he refused to accept the diagnosis that he was a cripple and persevered for five years to help regain his health no matter what the statistics predicted. He discovered that swimming in the warm hot water mineral springs in Georgia helped restore his leg muscles.

Standing and negotiating stairs was his nemesis but as often as he fell down the more he persevered. Rather then feeling sorry for himself he learned that a sense of humour and laughter helped him to take-on-the day.

When his mother, Sara , would argue that her son was too ill to exercise Eleanor and his physiotherapist fought to keep him focused on his recovery.

When duty called Franklin became the Governor of New York and then later President of the United States. He had a hard time having to restore the confidence of the people after a horrendous depression that had over twenty-five percent of the workers were unemployed. His inaugural address to the nation in 1933 expressed his resolve: " The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Polio gave Roosevelt a story to tell - the story of a man who came back. Without that story, his odds of being nominated and being elected would have been impossible. He was not born great, but he became great and polio was the turning point.

His aid and friend Harry Hopkins once said: "The guy never knows when he is licked. Because he had beaten his illness, Roosevelt thought he could beat anything." When told by his staff :"Mr President you canít do that he replied "Iíve done a lot of things I canít do." Perhaps he learned from Friederich Nietzsche: "That which does not kill you makes you stronger."

I liked the book because it epitomizes my firm belief that you can be and do anything if you but try.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com