On August 4, officials from the United States and Canada gathered at the small island library on Campobello Island overlooking Welsh Pool to rededicate the first monument erected anywhere in the world to honor Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt spent every summer of his life as a boy on Campobello, learning to sail and fish from the islanders and always referred to this place as his “beloved island.” To the islanders, FDR was not a head of state, but a friend and neighbor.

The monument was originally erected 66 years ago in 1946, a year after Roosevelt died, honoring his legacy as a “statesman and humanitarian, who during many years of his eventful life found in this tranquil island rest, refreshment and freedom from care.”  But after the mortar holding the granite blocks in place had weathered away, it eventually had to be taken down many years ago. However, during the past year, a dedicated a group of library and community volunteers, along with members of the staff of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, found the memorial’s capstone, then burnished the original bronze plaque and raised funds in order to resurrect the memorial.

At the rededication ceremony, United States Senator Susan Collins (R. ME) paid tribute to her fellow Senator, Tom Harkin (D. IA), who serves on the International Park Commission along with other Roosevelt family members, Canadian dignitaries from Parks Canada and Campobello Islanders who gathered under bright sunlight for the unveiling. Collins recalled FDR’s words about the region from his 1933 return visit to the island after his election as president as, “The finest example of permanent friendship between nations that we can possibly have.”

Collins noted that the U.S. and Canada “share the world’s longest undefended border, a common history and culture. The friendship between the United States and Canada is the hardiest of plants with the deepest of roots.  There could be no better place to celebrate this friendship than the only park in the world owned by the people of two countries and administered by a joint commission in their name. That is the happy memory we celebrate today.  Thanks to an affection that knows no border, it is a memory that will endure.” 

Philip Conkling is president and founder of the Island Institute, based in Rockland, Maine.