December 7, 2009, marks 68 years since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that propelled the United States into what was already the second World War. While Remembrance Day is an annual event (see the Presidential declaration), memories of Pearl Harbor have been more vivid since what some have implied was the 21st Century Pearl Harbor: the terrorist attack on the US on 11 September 2001.
Many recognize the opening line and a choice phrase or two, but have you ever read or listened to the entire statement? It’s surprisingly short, but very pointed. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can read a transcript at a government site, see copies of the original manuscript (with handwritten notes), and even download and hear the Roosevelt’s delivery at the FDR Library (at YouTube as well).
Some choice quotes, some of them relevant in an interesting way even today, follow:
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 that 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 it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us…
With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.
For historical comparison, consider President George Bush’s initial address to the nation after the 2001 terrorist attack.