The day after the devastating Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Congress with his eloquent speech requesting a declaration of war. (The linked text of Roosevelt’s speech includes an audio recording.) The clarity of Roosevelt’s words remains bracing even 67 years later:
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 unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.
In a column of continuing relevance, Victor Davis Hanson explored the contrast between December 7, 1941 and December 7, 2006.
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