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April 22, 2005
Oroville Mercury April 13, 1945

Nation Mourn His Death
Roll of Muffled Drums Heard as President’s Body is Taken to Train. Many in tears as they stand and watch; train to move slowly on to Washington.
By Merriman Smith Warm Springs, Ga. (UP)

The body of Franklin D. Roosevelt today was borne from the “Little White House” of Georgia to the roll of muffled drums, starting the long, last journey to Washington. The hot southern sun shone in a blue sky as the funeral cortege left the green hills the President had loved so well. The procession slowly moved down the winding mile-long road to Warm Springs station. In the distance a church bell pealed from some country steeple. The cortege left at 10:30 a. m. along the road stood hundreds of residents of the Presidents “other home.” They bared their heads and stood in silence as the cortege passed. First came the U. S. Army band from Ft. Benning, Ga. The roll of its muffled drums carried softly over the countryside.

Behind the band marched 1000 infantrymen, led by three companies of carbine-carrying troops, followed by riflemen. Their colors flew black streamers to signify the mourning of the nation. Then came the hearse bearing the President’s body in a copper-lined, flag-draped mahogany casket. As the troops reached the little station across the tracks from the Warm Springs Hotel and the little row of Warm Springs stores and business buildings they deployed into company front and presented their arms at the salute.

Behind the hearse and at each flank was the honor guard of high naval officers, afoot. Next came Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, dressed in black, with a fur cape. She sat stiffly upright, outwardly composed as she had been throughout. With Mrs. Roosevelt rode Fala, he sat quietly at Mrs. Roosevelt’s feet. Along the route, troops-overseas veterans-stood at attention. Many of them cried openly as they stood rigidly presenting their arms. The cortege wound through the pleasant grounds of the Warm Springs Foundation. Some two hours before the faint beat of the muffled drums signaled the approach of the cortege, the patients-like Mr. Roosevelt victims of infantile paralysis-had hobbled out in front of the main dormitory. Some were wheeled by their nurses. Chief Petty Officer Graham Jackson, a Georgia Negro who was a favorite of the President’s stepped from the circle of mourners. He had his accordian which he had often played for Mr. Roosevelt.

As the cortege approached, he lifted the accordian and played the haunting strains of Dvorak’s “Going Home” from the new world symphony. Then he played “Nearer My God To Thee.” Standing there, too, was old Tom Logan. For 14 years he had been Mr. Roosevelt’s waiter at Warm Springs. His chin trembling and his shoulders shaking, the white haird Negro watched the body of his friend pass by. “Lord, God, take care of him now,” said Logan. Slowly the procession passed on. The victims of the malady with whom MR. Roosevelt had a special bond watched it disappear in the distance.

Stu’s Notes: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to me, he is a hero. I put him right up there with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, as my favorite presidents. As Commander In Chief of all U. S. Armed Forces, he carried a heavier burden than most of us could bear. 400,000 Americans died under his command. He was only 63 years old, but I’m sure the rigors of his job took his life early, a life he gave for his country. When I asked my good friend and fellow Oroville Veterans Memorial Committee member Nick Krpan what he thought of the Presidents he immediately replied “He Saved the World”. Nick served under his command for 4 years, all the way to Berlin.