This four-acre memorial park includes a variety of monuments that commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech that he delivered in his eighth State of the Union address in 1941. Roosevelt gave this address to address the differences between a democratic nation such as the United States and the empires and fascist regimes fighting to control Europe and Asia. The park includes monuments dedicated to each of the four essential freedoms Roosevelt identified: the freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
On January 6, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the Four Freedoms speech at his State of the Union Address. Eleven months later, Rosevelt and Congress declared war upon the empire of Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the 1920s and 1930s, Americans had returned to their historical aversion to standing armies and military intervention in world affairs. As Nazi Germany began invading European nations, however, Roosevelt sensed a shift in public opinion and delivered this speech as part of his effort to move Americ towards assisting the Western Allies. Roosevelt openly called for support of his lend lease program which called for the American production of arms and munitions delivered to the Western Allies on generous terms. Roosevelt also declared his vision for the world founded on the freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Architect Louis Khan began the design for the park but did not live to see its completion. The park is located at the southernmost end of Roosevelt Island and looks out over the East River. A portion of the Four Freedoms Speech given by FDR is inscribed onto a monument in the park:
“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedoms of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want – everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear – everywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.”