Wednesday, December 07, 2016

"Infamy" -- FDR's Pearl Harbor Speech 75 years later

The above video shows the "infamous" speech given by President Franklin Roosevelt the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which took place 75 years ago today. The full text of the speech is below.

Worthy of note, as mentioned by President Roosevelt in this speech, is that the Japanese simultaneously attacked the Philippines (which hosted over 30,000 American soldiers) and Guam, an American territory. They also attacked the British territories of Malaya and Hong Kong, and the American outposts on Wake and Midway islands in the central Pacific. So while the main attack centered on Hawaii on December 7, it was only a part of a greater onslaught across the Pacific which the Japanese strategists had carefully planned months in advance.

Lightly defended Guam fell quickly after token resistance, but the battle for the Philippines raged for five months, ending in the death or capture of 23,000 American soldiers and about 100,000 Filipinos. It was one of the worst defeats in US history. The attacks on Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya resulted in a declaration of war by Britain on Japan on December 8, but these territories also quickly fell to Japan. The British defeat in Malaya and Singapore in February 1942 resulted in the death or capture of over 100,000 British, Indian and Australian troops and was considered by Churchill to be the worst capitulation in British military history.

Also worth noting is President Roosevelt's invocation of the Almighty toward the end of his speech.
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."
As we look back on World War II with 75 years of hindsight, we can often be lulled into the idea that Allied victory was a foregone conclusion. Yet, considering the magnitude of the defeats inflicted upon US and British forces by the Japanese during the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, such thoughts would not have occurred to US citizens and military leaders. It took an unprecedented civilizational effort to undo the mischief wrought by the Empire of Japan in the early phase of the war. Our ancestors should be honored for having the unbounded determination to gain the inevitable triumph. God certainly did help them.

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