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FDR brings nation's past into focus

Fluctuations in the stock market. War. The threat of nuclear weapons.

Sounds like some of the momentous problems facing President George W. Bush.

But, on Friday, Dennis Doughman of Seminole took people back in time to another president: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States (from 1933 to 1945) and the only American president to be elected four times.

Doughman, 61, appeared at the annual membership luncheon of the Friends of the Seminole Community Library. About 100 people attended, many of whom had lived through World War II.

"I always knew I'd be president some day," said Doughman as Roosevelt. "I was raised in an aristocratic family, but my political views were always for the common man."

With that, Doughman, dressed in a black hat, black tuxedo and bow tie, started a 45-minute monologue that took people back to the time of the Great Depression, the New Deal and the second World War.

Roosevelt, fifth cousin to the late President Theodore Roosevelt, walked in with a cane.

"The way you see me today," said Doughman as Roosevelt, "is the way I see myself. I vowed I'd never be seen publicly in a wheelchair."

Even though the real Roosevelt used a wheelchair most of the time, after contracting polio at the age of 39, Doughman said FDR did not appear in public that way.

Doughman as Roosevelt told of how he was asked by the Democratic Party to run in 1932. And how he flew to Chicago, to become the first presidential nominee ever to make an acceptance speech in person.

Although he was elected that November, carrying 42 out of 48 states, Roosevelt had to wait until March 4, 1933, to take office.

"I was the last president to have to wait so long," the make-believe Roosevelt said. "After that, Congress passed the 20th Amendment, which caused the inauguration to revert back to Jan. 20."

It was at his inauguration on March 4 that Roosevelt said: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

While Roosevelt is perhaps most remembered for his role leading up to America's entry into the Second World War, Doughman mentioned many things that FDR was responsible for or involved in, including the New Deal, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Civilian Conservation Corps and other ongoing programs.

World War II and what led up to it took up a good portion of Doughman's presentation.

In one part, he referred to Germany, Italy and Japan as "the Evil Axis."

Doughman as Roosevelt also talked about how the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and how more than 2,400 Americans died and about 1,200 were wounded.

"Pearl Harbor united the American people," said Doughman. "The next day, I addressed Congress and we declared war. I said Dec. 7 was a date which will live in infamy."

Alluding to the attacks on Sept. 11, Doughman told the audience: "There may be other days in other generations, but in our generation, Dec. 7 was the day of infamy."

Doughman said afterward: "I enjoy doing FDR because so many people in the audience knew of him and loved him. They lived through the war."

_ Information from World Book Online was used in this report.