FDR: Final Broadcast


This audio is part of the larger project The First Family of Radio: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Historic Broadcasts. You can download the entire radio hour from our podcast feed (iTunes).

March 20, 1945

FDR made this short appeal on behalf of a Red Cross fund drive. His health was rapidly failing. He had been diagnosed with heart disease and had dangerously high blood pressure. Fatigue could be heard in his voice. This was FDR’s final radio appearance. He died three weeks later. -Stephen Smith


The president of the United States speaks on behalf of the 1945 Red Cross War Fund, he will be introduced by Mr. Basil O’Connor, chairman of the Red Cross. Mr. O’Connor.

Good evening fellow Americans and fellow workers in the American Red Cross. Since I was appointed the national chairman of the American Red Cross about eight months ago I’ve done a lot of traveling. First, to Europe to inspect Red Cross operations there and more recently to Red Cross chapters from coast to coast within the United States. What I saw myself confirmed many things I’ve taken for granted. Things I’m sure most of you have also taken for granted.

First, that the Red Cross is doing a good job overseas. Second, that all branches and ranks of the arms services want that job continued. And finally, that you have the will and the heart and the stamina to make certain that that job is continued. I’ve had unmistakable proof of the first and second things to which I’ve referred.

Now, this month you are being put to the test on number three. I have no doubt as to the outcome; I could not have faith in what the Red Cross is doing unless I had faith in you, the people of America. And now I present to you, the president of your American Red Cross, the president of the United States of America.

Ladies and gentleman, there was a time when you and I gave to the Red Cross largely in a feeling of aid to others. That was a giving in humanity and in decency. This year we give as well in necessity—necessity for our own. The need never was greater. And it will not soon be less.

As your President I have never indulged myself or the American people in the pastime of predicting the advent of peace. I do not know when victory will come. I do know that it will come, and I do know that tonight there are over seven and a half million Americans overseas or fighting afloat in this great war. I know that there are nearly seventy thousand Americans in prison camps of the enemy. And I know that there is nothing unpredictable about their needs.

We can be proud of all that the Red Cross has meant to them. From personal observation abroad, I can testify to the usefulness of the Red Cross in the battle zones.

It has reached through the barbed wire of enemy prison camps with millions of parcels of food, and clothing, and medical supplies.

It has collected for the Army and Navy vast quantities of precious blood plasma, which has saved thousands of American lives.

It has supplied refreshment and entertainment and good cheer. It has served as a link between the fighting man and his loved ones here at home.

Never, in the annals of voluntary service to humanity, has an agency performed so many tasks so well.

And this is no call for charity. This is our chance to serve those who serve us.

As their Commander in Chief I call upon you, my fellow Americans, to oversubscribe the 1945 Red Cross War Fund. We cannot give too much to those who have given us the heroic hazard of their lives.