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Dignitaries dedicate new memorial state park to Franklin D. Roosevelt

NEW YORK -- Dignitaries on Wednesday dedicated a new memorial state park overlooking the United Nations to former President Franklin Roosevelt.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, on an island in the East River, “will stand forever as a monument to the man who brought us through the Great Depression and brought us victory over great evil,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told several hundred people at the dedication ceremony, celebrating a design 40 years in the making.

Former President Bill Clinton said Roosevelt's dream for a better world “is still the right dream for America” and the park should remind the nation his lofty goals are worth pursuing.

The triangular park is named after Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, known as the Four Freedoms Speech, given before America got involved in World War II. Roosevelt said the way to justify the enormous sacrifice of war was to create a world centered on four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The words were later incorporated into the charter of the United Nations.

The park sits on Roosevelt Island, a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) slice of land between Manhattan and Queens. The 4-acre (1.6-hectare) expanse of green is flanked by 120 trees leading to a colossal bronze bust of Roosevelt at the threshold of a white granite open-air plaza.

The statue is an enlargement of a 28-inch (711.2-millimeter) bust of Roosevelt, also a New York governor, created by American sculptor Jo Davidson. It sits in a stone niche on the back of which a passage from the Four Freedoms speech is carved. The statue sits a mere 300 yards across the river from the headquarters of the United Nations, which Roosevelt helped found.

The park will open to the public on Oct. 24.

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Felix von Perfall, 8, a grandson of former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. William vanden Heuvel, takes a picture of the bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt that is part of the new Franklin ...

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