March 1, 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress upon his return from the Yalta Conference. Members were shocked to see the President deliver his remarks while seated. Referring to his leg braces FDR explained "I hope that you will pardon me for the unusual posture of sitting down. It makes it a lot easier for me not having to carry about ten pounds of steel around the bottom of my legs." The President's health was obviously deteriorating. The grayish skin, halting speech and vapid stare were all tell-tail signs. This observation did not diminish the blow of his death at Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12.
FDR's funeral procession leaves
Union Station, Washington, D.C.
April 14, 1945
The news of FDR's death so moved Stalin that he allowed the story and the President's picture to be printed on the front pages of the Russian newspapers - space previously reserved only for national stories. Winston Churchill said he felt as though he had been "struck a physical blow," and broke down when he relayed the news in a speech to the House of Commons. A soldier aboard a troopship bound for France exclaimed in disbelief "But the war's almost over!"
A funeral train slowly brought Roosevelt's body from Warm Springs to Washington.
Although copper was rationed as part of the war effort, a copper-lined coffin
was built for his interment. After the funeral ceremonies his body was again
placed on the train for a last ride to his home in Hyde Park, New York.