Four Freedoms: Spoken Words on a New York City Island


Where the rows of linden trees narrow, Four Freedoms escorts you effortlessly into 1941. The world is challenged as never before. Aggression darkens Europe with just one county, Great Britain, still battling the tyrant. And President Roosevelt’s stirring demand for basic human rights now stirs a forecourt on Roosevelt Island, pulling the past. But despite the inspiration, eighty years later, liberty remains a mixed bag, as much political rhetoric as bolted-in fact.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Freedom is a light that guides us on our way,

Equality is the hope that keeps us strong,

Justice is the goal that we will always seek,

And Peace is the dream that we will never forget.

Four Freedoms Incomplete Promise

In truth, independence is dappled. It darkens and shines through in contrasting shades of each.

A linden tree lane illustrates the walk through freedom in America and across the world.

Even here, it falls short.

In January 1973, Mayor John V. Lindsay proposed renaming Welfare Island as “Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Island.” But somewhere, we lost Eleanor, the greatest champion of freedom in that family and Franklin’s inspiration.

It’s an unspoken blow to women and their liberty to speak loud.

And more was sacrificed because the Four Freedoms was a political argument. It led America’s charge into the greatest conflict in world history and inspired institutions dedicated to preventing worse in the future.

But even here, the four essential freedoms – of speech, of worship, from want, and from fear – declared by Roosevelt are not fulfilled.

After unimaginable pain, suffering and death, World War II ended, but the dream of freedom was not complete. It still isn’t. Far from it.

Freedom is a flame that burns

It’s always been a part of us

From the moment we take our first breath

It’s the light that guides us through the dark

And leads us to the path of truth.

And the truth is that, across the world, we still have a long way to go.

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