March 2, 2023

The Four Freedoms Award

The basic rights of human beings everywhere

At the end of his State of the Union address on January 6, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of four freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. President Roosevelt had outlined these freedoms a few days before, and the initial wording was taken down by Presidential advisor Samuel Rosenman.

Original wording of the Four Freedoms section of President Roosevelt’s State of the Union speech, as dictated to Samuel Rosenman. Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.


In 1943, artist Norman Rockwell illustrated these four freedoms, which were printed in the Saturday Evening Post over four weeks, and the originals traveled around the United States on a War Bond tour that raised more than $132 million.  A set of the original prints are on display at the George C. Marshall Foundation.

Freedom of Speech by Norman Rockwell


Freedom of Religion by Normal Rockwell


Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell


Freedom from Fear by Norman Rockwell


On March 14, 1952, the Four Freedoms Foundation awarded George Marshall their annual Four Freedoms award in “Recognition of outstanding service as a soldier, statesman, and diplomat in the cause of the Four Freedoms, the basic rights of human beings everywhere.” It was awarded to President Harry Truman in 1953.

George Marshall speaking at the Four Freedoms Foundation award dinner.


George Marshall receiving the Four Freedoms Foundation award.

The Four Freedoms Foundation is now the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in New York City, and the Roosevelt Institute and Roosevelt Stichting revived the award in 1982.

Melissa has been at GCMF since fall 2019, and previously was an academic librarian specializing in history. She and her husband, John, have three grown children, and live in Rockbridge County with two large rescue dogs. Keep up with her @MelissasLibrary.