Thanks For FDR, Churchill

On this last Thanksgiving of the 20th Century, to whom do we owe the most?

I would say two men: Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

As we think back on the "good war" that America fought, it is easy enough to forget that even after Hitler had built the greatest war machine the world had ever known, some, even in Great Britain, still believed a way could be found to coexist with the Nazis.

And to many in America, Europe and its problems seemed no threat to a country an ocean away.

Schieffer's choices for Century honors, at Yalta in 1945

Yet those two men saw what so many others did not: They recognized that it was not the weapons the Nazis assembled that posed the danger, but the hatred that fueled their cause.

They understood the world would be plunged into a New Dark Age if the Nazis went unchecked, and so they asked what leaders seldom ask of their people any more: they asked for sacrifice.

And of course their people - our parents - came to see the danger, too. They responded and with heroic sacrifice, turned back the greatest evil ever known.

Roosevelt and Churchill. We would not see their like again this Century. Perhaps no century is graced with more than one or two such men.

But in an age when so much of life - from the products we buy to the decisions our leaders make - is so heavily influenced by polling and public opinion surveys, when we so often confuse celebrities with heroes, let us pause to remember two men who followed their inner lights and may have saved the world.

May we forever stand in awe of their skill and greatness.

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