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  • Writer's picturewilliamseileen10

from the Prologue

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

In 1943, Norman Rockwell painted a series of four paintings titled together The Four Freedoms. These works - Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want - illustrate four American values as highlighted in Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union Address to Congress in 1941.

Freedom from Want depicts a family sitting at a Thanksgiving table. A grandmotherly figure in an apron is setting the turkey on the table. Garrulous relatives spanning generations sit around the table engaged in banter. It's what families do at holiday meals - catch up with one another, finish each other's sentences. "Do you remember the time...?" But one fellow, perhaps the father, is looking directly at the artist. He has a twinkle in his eye as if asking: Wanna join us? This crazy family? At your own risk! The girl in the painting is a little young to join in the conversation; nevertheless, her face is glowing, she is totally engaged in observing everyone. She is happy watching everyone else be happy.

I feel a glow inside observing this picture, and I imagine that I am that little girl. I'm nestled in a feeling of belonging and secruity. It's not just that there is an abundance of food on the table. It's not just that there is a new Pontiac station wagon in the driveway, and that the Americna Dream is being built replete with tract homes and shopping malls, but there is love and goodwill aplenty.

Then, one by one, people leave the table. Some for good. With each disappearance the little girl becomes more and more crestfallen. Now everyone is gone, and she sits by herself looking out the window. But the worst part about it, she realizes, is that some people were never invited to the table at all.

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