For FDR, ‘the greatest tribute — utter silence’

“Franklin Roosevelt, honorably discharged from all his wars, rode slowly through Charlotte’s sorrowing thousands last night….

“Stretching the length of the railway station and packing the streets that opened out upon the tracks, the people… paid him the greatest tribute they knew — utter silence.

“As the crowd awaited the arrival of the train, they stood quietly and talked in low tones. And as it came slowly through, the only noise was that of the soldiers as they brought their rifles smartly to the salute.

“When the train had passed, and only a glimpse could be caught of the great American flag that covered the copper casket in which lay the body of the fallen chief, the crowd, still without a discordant word, turned and went away.

“As some 40 singers from the various churches… began singing ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ and ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee,’ hats went off all up and down the tracks.

“Farther down the tracks at the other end of the station, a Negro group sang spirituals. For Negroes were there, too, hundreds of them, paying their tribute to the man whom hey looked upon as the best friend they ever had in the White House.”

— From “Sorrowing Charlotte Thousands Pay Final Homage to Roosevelt” by LeGette Blythe, Charlotte Observer, April 14, 1945

Blythe, a prolific newspaperman and historian, was the grandfather of Will Blythe, author of “To Hate Like This Is to be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry” (2006).

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