Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

"There is no such thing as security for any nation-or any individual-in
a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism."

Address over the radio following the declaration of a state of war with
the Japanese Empire, December 9, 1941

The sudden criminal attacks perpetrated by the Japanese in the Pacific
provide the climax of a decade of international immorality.

Powerful and resourceful gangsters have banded together to make war upon
the whole human race. Their challenge has now been flung at the United
States of America. The Japanese have treacherously violated the long-
standing peace between us. Many American soldiers and sailors have been
killed by enemy action. American ships have been sunk, American
airplanes have been destroyed.

The Congress and the people of the United States have accepted that

Together with other free peoples, we are now fighting to maintain our
right to live among our world neighbors in freedom and in common
decency, without fear of assault.

I have prepared the full record of our past relations with Japan, and it
will be submitted to the Congress. It begins with the visit of Commodore
Perry to Japan 88 years ago. It ends with the visit of two Japanese
emissaries to the Secretary of State last Sunday, an hour after Japanese
forces had loosed their bombs and machine guns against our flag, our
forces, and our citizens.

I can say with utmost confidence that no Americans today or a thousand
years hence, need feel anything but pride in our patience and our
efforts through all the years toward achieving a peace in the Pacific
which would be fair and honorable to every nation, large or small. And
no honest person, today or a thousand years hence, will be able to
suppress a sense of indignation and horror at the treachery committed by
the military dictators of Japan, under the very shadow of the flag of
peace borne by their special envoys in our midst.

The course that Japan has followed for the past 10 years in Asia has
paralleled the course of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and Africa.
Today, it has become far more than a parallel. It is collaboration so
well calculated that all the continents of the world, and all the
oceans, are now considered by the Axis strategists as one gigantic

In 1931, Japan invaded Manchukuo-without warning.

In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia-without warning.

In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria-without warning.

In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia-without warning.

Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland-without warning.

In 1940, Hitler invaded Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and
Luxembourg-without warning.

In 1940, Italy attacked France and later Greece-without warning. In
1941, the Axis Powers attacked Jugoslavia and Greece and they dominated
the Balkans-without warning.

In 1941, Hitler invaded Russia-without warning.

And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand-and the United States-
without warning.

It is all of one pattern.

We are now in this war. We are all in it-all the way. Every single man,
woman, and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our
American history. We must share together the bad news and the good news,
the defeats and the victories-the changing fortunes of war.

So far, the news has all been bad. We have suffered a serious setback in
Hawaii. Our forces in the Philippines, which include the brave people of
that commonwealth, are taking punishment, but are defending themselves
vigorously. The reports from Guam and Wake and Midway Islands are still
confused, but we must be prepared for the announcement that all these
three outposts have been seized.

The casualty lists of these first few days will undoubtedly be large. I
deeply feel the anxiety of all families of the men in our armed forces
and the relatives of people in cities which have been bombed. I can only
give them my solemn promise that they will get news just as quickly as

This Government will put its trust in the stamina of the American
people, and will give the facts to the public as soon as two conditions
have been fulfilled: First, that the information has been definitely and
officially confirmed; and, second, that the release of the information
at the time it is received will not prove valuable to the enemy directly
or indirectly.

Most earnestly I urge my countrymen to reject all rumors. These ugly
little hints of complete disaster fly thick and fast in wartime. They
have to be examined and appraised.

As an example, I can tell you frankly that until further surveys are
made, I have not sufficient information to state the exact damage which
has been done to our naval vessels at Pearl Harbor. Admittedly the
damage is serious. But no one can say how serious, until we know how
much of this damage can be repaired and how quickly the necessary
repairs can be made.

I cite as another example a statement made on Sunday night that a
Japanese carrier had been located and sunk off the Canal Zone. And when
you hear statements that are attributed to what they call "an
authoritative source," you can be reasonably sure that under these war
circumstances the "authoritative source" was not any person in

Many rumors and reports which we now hear originate with enemy sources.
For instance, today the Japanese are claiming that as a result of their
one action against Hawaii they have gained naval supremacy in the
Pacific. This is an old trick of propaganda which has been used
innumerable times by the Nazis. The purposes of such fantastic claims
are, of course, to spread fear and confusion among us, and to goad us
into revealing military information which our enemies are desperately
anxious to obtain.

Our Government will not be caught in this obvious trap-and neither will
our people.

It must be remembered by each and every one of us that our free and
rapid communication must be greatly restricted in wartime. It is not
possible to receive full, speedy, accurate reports from distant areas of
combat. This is particularly true where naval operations are concerned.
For in these days of the marvels of radio it is often impossible for the
commanders of various units to report their activities by radio, for the
very simple reason that this information would become available to the
enemy, and would disclose their position and their plan of defense or

Of necessity there will be delays in officially confirming or denying
reports of operations but we will not hide facts from the country if we
know the facts and if the enemy will not be aided by their disclosure.

To all newspapers and radio stations-all those who reach the eyes and
ears of the American people-I say this: You have a most grave
responsibility to the Nation now and for the duration of this war.

If you feel that your Government is not disclosing enough of the truth,
you have very right to say so. But-in the absence of all the facts, as
revealed by official sources-you have no right to deal out unconfirmed
reports in such a way as to make people believe they are gospel truth.

Every citizen, in every walk of life, shares this same responsibility.
The lives of our soldiers and sailors-the whole future of this Nation-
depend upon the manner in which each and every one of us fulfills his
obligation to our country.

Now a word about the recent past-and the future. A year and a half has
elapsed since the fall of France, when the whole world first realized
the mechanized might which the Axis nations had been building for so
many years. America has used that year and a half to great advantage.
Knowing that the attack might reach us in all too short a time, we
immediately began greatly to increase our industrial strength and our
capacity to meet the demands of modern warfare.

Precious months were gained by sending vast quantities of our war
materials to the nations of the world still able to resist Axis
aggression. Our policy rested on the fundamental truth that the defense
of any country resisting Hitler or Japan was in the long run the defense
of our own country. That policy has been justified. It has given us
time, invaluable time, to build our American assembly lines of

Assembly lines are now in operation. Others are being rushed to
completion. A steady stream of tanks and planes, of guns and ships, of
shells and equipment-that is what these 18 months have given us.

But it is all only a beginning of what has to be done. We must be set to
face a long war against crafty and powerful bandits. The attack at Pearl
Harbor can be repeated at any one of many points in both oceans and
along both our coast lines and against all the rest of the hemisphere.

It will not only be a long war, it will be a hard war. That is the basis
on which we now lay all our plans. That is the yardstick by which we
measure what we shall need and demand-money, materials, doubled and
quadrupled production, ever increasing. The production must be not only
for our own Army and Navy and air forces. It must reinforce the other
armies and navies and air forces fighting the Nazis and the war lords of
Japan throughout the Americas and the world.

I have been working today on the subject of production. Your Government
has decided on two broad policies.

The first is to speed up all existing production by working on a 7-day-
week basis in every war industry, including the production of essential
raw materials.

The second policy, now being put into form, is to rush additions to the
capacity of production by building more new plants, by adding to old
plants, and by using the many smaller plants for war needs.

Over the hard road of the past months we have at times met obstacles and
difficulties, divisions and disputes, indifference and callousness. That
is now all past and, I am sure, forgotten.

The fact is that the country now has an organization in Washington built
around men and women who are recognized experts in their own fields. I
think the country knows that the people who are actually responsible in
each and every one of these many fields are pulling together with a
teamwork that has never before been excelled.

On the road ahead there lies hard work-grueling work-day and night,
every hour and every minute.

I was about to add that ahead there lies sacrifice for all of us.

But it is not correct to use that word. The United States does not
consider it a sacrifice to do all one can, to give one's best to our
Nation when the Nation is fighting for its existence and its future

It is not a sacrifice for any man, old or young, to be in the Army or
the Navy of the United States. Rather is it a privilege.

It is not a sacrifice for the industrialist or the wage earner, the
farmer or the shopkeeper, the trainman or the doctor, to pay more taxes,
to buy more bonds, to forego extra profits, to work longer or harder at
the task for which he is best fitted. Rather is it a privilege.

It is not a sacrifice to do without many things to which we are
accustomed if the national defense calls for doing without.

A review this morning leads me to the conclusion that at present we
shall not have to curtail the normal articles of food. There is enough
food for all of us and enough left over to send to those who are
fighting on the same side with us.

There will be a clear and definite shortage of metals of many kinds for
civilian use, for the very good reason that in our increased program we
shall need for war purposes more than half of that portion of the
principal metals which during the past year have gone into articles for
civilian use. We shall have to give up many things entirely.

I am sure that the people in every part of the Nation are prepared in
their individual living to win this war. I am sure they will cheerfully
help to pay a large part of its financial cost while it goes on I am
sure they will cheerfully give up those material things they are asked
to give up.

I am sure that they will retain all those great spiritual things without
which we cannot win through.

I repeat that the United States can accept no result save victory, final
and complete. Not only must the shame of Japanese treachery be wiped
out, but the sources of international brutality, wherever they exist,
must be absolutely and finally broken.

In my message to the Congress yesterday I said that take very certain
that this form of treachery shall never we "will endanger

us again." In order to achieve that certainty, we must begin the great
task that is before us by abandoning once and for all the illusion that
we can ever again isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity.

In these past few years-and, most violently, in the past few days-we
have learned a terrible lesson.

It is our obligation to our dead-it is our sacred obligation to their
children and our children-that we must never forget what we have

And what we all have learned is this:

There is no such thing as security for any nation-or any individual-in a
world ruled by the principles of gangsterism.

There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful
aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not immune from severe
attack-that we cannot measure our safety in terms of miles on any map.

We may acknowledge that our enemies have performed a brilliant feat of
deception, perfectly timed and executed with great skill. It was a
thoroughly dishonorable deed, but we must face the fact that modern
warfare as conducted in the Nazi manner is a dirty business. We don't
like it-we didn't want to get in it-but we are in it and we're going to
fight it with everything we've got.

I do not think any American has any doubt of our ability to administer
proper punishment to the perpetrators of these crimes.

Your Government knows that for weeks Germany has been telling Japan that
if Japan did not attack the United States, Japan would not share in
dividing the spoils with Germany when peace came. She was promised by
Germany that if she came in she would receive the complete and perpetual
control of the whole of the Pacific area-and that means not only the Far
East, not only all of the islands in the Pacific but also a stranglehold
on the west coast of North, Central, and South America.

We also know that Germany and Japan are conducting their military and
naval operations in accordance with a joint plan. That plan considers
all peoples and nations which are not helping the Axis Powers as common
enemies of each and every one of the Axis Powers.

That is their simple and obvious grand strategy. That is why the
American people must realize that it can be matched only with similar
grand strategy. We must realize for example that Japanese successes
against the United States in the Pacific are helpful to German
operations in Libya; that any German success against the Caucasus is
inevitably an assistance to Japan in her operations against the Dutch
East Indies; that a German attack against Algiers or Morocco opens the
way to a German attack against South America.

On the other side of the picture, we must learn to know that guerrilla
warfare against the Germans in Serbia helps us; that a successful
Russian offensive against the Germans helps us; and that British
successes on land or sea in any part of the world strengthen our hands.

Remember always that Germany and Italy, regardless of any formal
declaration of war, consider themselves at war with the United States at
this moment just as much as they consider themselves at war with Britain
and Russia. And Germany puts all the other

republics of the Americas into the category of enemies. The people of
the hemisphere can be honored by that.

The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle.
When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this
force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against
immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers; we are builders.

We are now in the midst of a war, not for conquest, not for vengeance,
but for a world in which this Nation, and all that this Nation
represents, will be safe for our children. We expect to eliminate the
danger from Japan, but it would serve us ill if we accomplished that and
found that the rest of the world was dominated by Hitler and Mussolini.

We are going to win the war, and we are going to win the peace that

And in the dark hours of this day-and through dark days that may be yet
to come-we will know that the vast majority of the members of the human
race are on our side. Many of them are fighting with us. All of them are
praying for us. For, in representing our cause, we represent theirs as
well-our hope and their hope for liberty under God.


GOP Left Me said...

Good for you Lowell, you're the only local blogger that even thought to mention what happened on a Sunday morning, just like today, sixty seven years ago on this date.

Where the hell are today's Republicans? Licking their wounds and trying to rationalize how the country betrayed them? Patriotism is only useful to them for election purposes. Otherwise they're willing to let our wounded and disabled veterans rot away, forgotten.


Old Coot said...

Yep, I'm pretty disappointed that not much has been said about Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII.

Old Coot said...

This is important, but pretty long. Why don't you just do like when you have the first paragraph or two and then link to the rest?
That works pretty good.