Freedom Rises As The Sun Sets At The Iconic Park Oasis

Freedom Rises As The Sun Sets At The Iconic Park Oasis

At an annual event in Roosevelt Island’s FDR Four Freedoms Park, Freedom was more than an overworked cliche. It was dramatic and visionary. Friends and supporters gathered for a special Sunset Garden Party in New York City’s most serene space.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

In a Special Year, the Emphasis on Freedom

With the creative imagination of Four Freedoms Park Conservancy CEO Howard Axel, the annual keystone event – The Sunset Garden Party – is never a routine exercise. But this year, it stepped out a little further, teaming with the IIE Scholarship Rescue Fund, highlighting the perilous state of freedom across the globe.

Prior to the event, park supporters gathered for beverages and conversation in The Room lined with quotes from President Roosevelt’s 1941 speech.

Rescue Fund Chairman Allan Goodman offered a brief but stirring speech about the plight of liberty today. He then introduced a pair of scholars who shared their experiences where freedom is violently suppressed.

New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid with Senator José Serrano. Serrano, who chairs the State Senate committee overseeing Parks, and Kulleseid work together in funding and maintaining the grounds.

Developing this year’s breakthrough program, Voices of Freedom, Axel drew on a realistic portrait contrasting President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s carefully drawn declarations with the reality the world faces today.

Highlights from FDR’s 1941 State of the Union address emerge from speakers nested inside the linden trees. Roosevelt’s bust gazes back. To this, Axel and his team added contemporary accents in partnership with the IIE Scholarship Rescue Fund.

Senator Serrano with State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Roosevelt Island Community Board 8 representative Lynne Strong-Shinozaki. Seawright proved a quarter of a million dollars for a chair lift aiding physically challenged visitors in the park, expanding freedom in a generous gesture.
Former City Council Member Jessica Lappin served as Vice Chair for this event. During her time representing Roosevelt Island on the council, Lappin avidly supported the park’s construction, but her dedication didn’t stop there. Since term limiting out of office, she’s continued serving on the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy Board of Directors.

The Voices of Freedom

Dr. Allan Goodman, CEO of the IIE Scholarship rescue fund, stressed the threats to freedom across the globe, including in the United States where a journalist was recently murdered by an angry politician whose misconduct he exposed.
Dr. Omar Sadr is a political scientist and public intellectual who researches issues of pluralism, democratization, and governance in contemporary Afghanistan.” He talked about his experiences. He is a beneficiary of the Scholarship Rescue Fund.
Dr. Anna Afreen is the protégée of the late liberal Muslim scholar Muhammad Shakil Auj, who was assassinated by extremists in Karachi in 2014.” Now a beneficiary of the Scholarship Rescue Fund, Afreen was wounded in the attack.

As the sunset deepened, visitors drifted out of the park. But the freedoms voiced by President Roosevelt got a contemporary update. The fight we can’t take for granted goes on.

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