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Happiness lies in the joy of achievement

Franklin D. Roosevelt, also known as FDR, famously said on his inauguration in 1933: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

There are many inspiring elements to the story of the 32nd President of the United States.

Among his greatest achievements was to restore hope to a United States devastated by the dramatic consequences of the 1929 Wall Street Crash. His New Deal got Americans and America itself working again.

FDR’s regular cosy radio addresses, known as his fireside chats, boosted confidence amongst the nation as it listened in and made him enormously popular. He was elected president four times.

He also proved a great war leader, marshalling American troops after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the US into the Second World War in 1941. His sudden death just when Germany was on the verge of defeat in 1945, shocked and upset many.

But it’s perhaps his personal endeavour that makes his political achievement all the more remarkable. At the age of 39 with his career already in full flow, FDR was struck down by a disease which left him paralysed from the waist down.

At the time, this was diagnosed as polio although it is now thought to have been Guillain–Barré syndrome. Remarkably, without revealing to the wider public the full extent of his disability, FDR resurrected his career and revived America just as he had rebuilt his own life.