In a room that had housed the telegraph came a telegram to the nation. The message was clear, the messenger confident.
Thus began the first of 30 radio addresses from the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Thus began the president’s fireside chat on a crisis that threatened the health of the country and the life of the world: the fate of America’s banks.
But these common difficulties concerned only material things.
What concerns us now is the survival of both our way of life and life itself, whether we will live like paupers or die like peasants, whether we will live like outcasts or die like lepers, whether we will live like depressives or die like dependents.
To allay our concerns, President Trump should brief us each day about his actions to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus.
He should allow his science and medical advisers to tell us the truth; the brute facts, in spite of the forces of panic, ignorance, and malice.
He is allowing them to do just that, in concert with every governor and big-city mayor, so we may practice distance without sowing further division, so we may triumph without resorting to triage, so the old may live and the young may live to grow old.
He is allowing these things to happen, in spite of losses in treasure and costs to the Treasury, because he knows the truth about the lie his enemies say: that it can happen here; “it” being Italy, where the virus has been victorious.
If we are to avoid a run on our hospitals, an epidemic worse than all the raids on all the banks during the Great Depression, we must stay the course.
We must stay calm until our fearful trip is done, when the prize we seek is won.
We must sail on, O Ship of State!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee, — are all with thee!