President Roosevelt At Temple University – 1936 – Past Daily Reference Room: Presidents’ Day

FDR - Accepting honorary Degree and celebrating Washington's Birthday at the same time.
FDR – Accepting honorary Degree and celebrating Washington‘s Birthday at the same time.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – President Roosevelt – At Temple University – Feb. 22, 1936 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Since today is Presidents’ Day, I thought it would be a good reminder of those past Presidents in history and a few words from one of them who often quoted and often looked at for inspiration.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was accepting an honorary Degree from Temple University on February 22, 1936. Since February 22nd was George Washington’s Birthday, and since there was no Presidents’ Day until 1968 when both Lincoln and Washington’s Birthday were folded into the 3rd Monday in February, it was two celebrations in one on this February 22nd – Washington’s Birthday and an honorary degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Pres. Roosevelt: “We have rightly taken the position that in spite of the fact that economic adversity through these years might impose upon the youth of the country distressing and unavoidable burdens, the Government owed it to the future of the Nation to see that these burdens should not include the denial of educational opportunities for those who were willing and ready to use them to advantage.

Educational progress in the past generation has given to this country a population more literate, more cultured, in the best sense of the word, more aware of the complexities of modern civilized life than ever before in our history. And while the methods of spreading education are new, the lessons of education are eternal. The books may be new, but the truth is old.

The qualities of a true education remain what they were when Washington insisted upon its importance.

First among these qualities is a sense of fair play among men.

As education grows, men come to recognize their essential dependence one upon the other. There is revealed to them the true nature of society and of Government which, in a large measure, culminates in the art of human cooperation.

The second great attribute of education is peculiarly appropriate to a great democracy. It is a sense of equality among men when they are dealing with the things of the mind. Inequality may linger in the world of material things, but great music, great literature, great art and the wonders of science are, and should be, open to all.

Finally, a true education depends upon freedom in the pursuit of truth. No group and no Government can properly prescribe precisely what should constitute the body of knowledge with which true education is concerned. The truth is found when men are free to pursue it. Genuine education is present only when the springs from which knowledge comes are pure. It is this belief in the freedom of the mind, written into our fundamental law, and observed in our everyday dealings with the problems of life, that distinguishes us as a Nation, the United States of America, above every Nation in the world.

In our ability to keep pure the sources of knowledge, in our mind’s freedom to winnow the chaff from the good grain, in the even temper and in the calmness of our everyday relationships, in our willingness to face the details of fact and the needs of temporary emergencies—in all of these lie our future and our children’s future.

“On your own heads, in your own hands, the sin and the saving lies!”

Needless to say, it was about Education for everyone then, just as it is now.  Some things never change.

Here is that complete address, as given by FDR at the commencement exercises at Temple University on February 22, 1936


And while you’re listening and contemplating the importance of Education in our society, can I please ask you to consider chipping in a few bucks to help keep Past Daily up and running and to keep us from losing our Archive over increased rent? We’re trying to raise enough money to keep us up and running which means also making sure we have access to all the sounds and history every day to put on this site. We’re not asking for a lot; even a little would make all the difference.  We’re $2500 short of our goal as of today and we have 16 days to raise enough to keep from getting evicted. We’re hopeful that will happen, but we need your help in order to do it. So please, click on the link below and make your Tax-Deductible Contribution and tell your friends – we need everybody right now.


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