On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt suffered a stroke and died while on a vacation in Warm Springs, Georgia.
Two days later, the S.S. Bradford Island, a tanker, was launched from the Kaiser Swan Island (Portland, Ore.) shipyard before a somber audience.
A bugler mournfully played taps. The master of ceremonies asked the shipyard flag be lowered to half-staff, then he delivered a brief elegy to the popular fallen president.
Roosevelt had visited the Vancouver (Wash.) Kaiser shipyard on September 23, 1942 on a secret trip to review Home Front production, and was a strong supporter of the Kaiser shipyards and workers.
This audio clip comes to us from an archival set of master recordings on glass disks, capturing the gravity and loss of a community that had suffered much in the past years:
“By the proclamation of Harry S. Truman, president of the United States, this is a day of national mourning for the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt…
“We have lost a great leader and a true friend. We mourn with the other people of the world who have also sustained this loss…
“There is perhaps a no more fitting way to commemorate his passing from us as a mortal being than the launching of this ship. For although death has come to Mr. Roosevelt, it came near the hour of victory towards which he led us, and the sturdiness of his dauntless spirit and faith is with us.”