Pvt. Fala and FDR

The Washington Monument to FDR immortalizes one of the most intriguing and forgotten relationships between He and his dog Pvt. Fala of the army. Paralyzed from the hips down due to polio in 1921, The Young FDR would not to be thwarted. During his illness, he went on to become Governor Of New York, and later, President of the United States.

He largely succeeded in hiding his paralysis during his political career, campaigning from a train, even though, the train could only travel 35 miles a day, due to the pain that the vibrations caused FDR. He only stood for speeches before the cameras, and it was excruciating and difficult. Later As WW2 wore on, FDR’s declining health was kept a secret from the nation.

In 1940 FDR was given the gift of a scottie by a cousin and felt obligated to keep the dog. FDR was being treated for anemia, hypertension, and , by 1944, Dr. Frank Lahey of Boston, had seen FDR in consultation and had informed the president that he had a metastatic tumor above his eye, and advised him not to run for a fourth term.The Tumor was removed, and he was re-elected.

FDR had become anorexic, refusing to eat, and was still facing some of the greatest trials of his presidency.It was during that period that it became evident that he had become inseparable with Fala.

” Fala also became an honorary private in the U.S. Army by “contributing” $1 to the war effort for every day of the year and setting an example for others on the home front. During the Battle of the Bulge, American soldiers asked one another the name of the President’s dog, expecting the answer “Fala,” as a supplementary safeguard against German soldiers attempting to infiltrate American ranks.
Fala was often with Roosevelt on the scene of important events; he traveled on Sacred Cow, the president’s airplane, and the Ferdinand Magellan, Roosevelt’s custom-made train car, as well as by ship. Fala was with Roosevelt at the Atlantic Charter Conference, Quebec, and the meeting with President Manuel Ávila Camacho of Mexico in Monterrey.”


Public records show that FDR made a speech addressing an incident involving a battleship. He and the Congress had become embroiled in a battle over reports that FDR had left Fala behind during wartime maneuvers, and ordered a destroyer to go back to pick up his most treasured friend.

not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. [laughter] Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family don’t resent attacks — but Faladoes resent them. [laughter] You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or 20 million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. [laughter] He has not been the same dog since. [laughter] I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself — such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog![laughter]~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

When FDR Died, due to cardiac complications associated with anorexia, he left behind a bereft Fala, who lived seven years beyond his master. That tale is best told by Elleanor Roosevelt….

It was Fala, my husband’s little dog, who never really readjusted. Once, in 1945, when General Eisenhower came to lay a wreath on Franklin’s grave, the gates of the regular driveway were opened and his automobile approached the house accompanied by the wailing of the sirens of a police escort. When Fala heard the sirens, his legs straightened out, his ears pricked up and I knew that he expected to see his master coming down the drive as he had come so many times. Later, when we were living in the cottage, Fala always lay near the dining-room door where he could watch both entrances just as he did when his master was there. Franklin would often decide suddenly to go somewhere and Fala had to watch both entrances in order to be ready to spring up and join the party on short notice. Fala accepted me after my husband’s death, but I was just someone to put up with until the master should return.
—Eleanor Roosevelt, On My Own
Fala died in 1952 and was buried next to his beloved friend, FDR, in the Rose Garden in Springwood. he is now immortalized in the monument pictured above. As FDR pulls his cloak hiding the wheels of his chair, Pvt. Fala stands guard next to his best friend. He is the only Dog memorialized by a monument for his service to his master on the national mall at the capital.
Fala’s statue may not be as big as Abe Lincoln’s, but I have an idea his heart was.

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