The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The American people have faced other grave crises in their
history–with American courage, and with American resolution. They
will do no less today.

They know the actualities of the attacks upon us. They know the
necessities of a bold defense against these attacks. They know that
the times call for clear heads and fearless hearts.

And with that inner strength that comes to a free people conscious
of their duty, and conscious of the righteousness of what they do,
they will–with Divine help and guidance–stand their ground
against this latest assault upon their democracy, their
sovereignty, and their freedom.

December 9, 1941.

My Fellow Americans:

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
challenge.

Together with other free peoples, we are now fighting to maintain
our right to live among our world neighbors in freedom, 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 eighty-eight 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 in 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 ten years in Asia
has paralleled the course of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and in
Africa. Today, it has become far more than a parallel. It is actual
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 battlefield.

In 1931, ten years ago, 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 ’39, Hitler invaded Poland–without warning.

In 1940, Hitler invaded Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium
and Luxembourg–without warning.

In 1940, Italy attacked France and later Greece–without warning.

And this year, in 1941, the Axis Powers attacked Yugoslavia and
Greece and they dominated the Balkans–without warning.

In 1941, also, 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 been all 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 of the 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 possible.

This government will put its trust in the stamina of the American
people, and will give the facts to the public just 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 from now on that
under these war circumstances the “authoritative source” is not any
person in authority.

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 hare 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 the people of the United States.

It must be remembered by each and every one of us that our free and
rapid communication these days must be greatly restricted in
wartime. It is not possible to receive full and speedy and accurate
reports front distant areas of combat. This is particularly true
where naval operations are concerned. For in these days of the
marvels of the radio it is often impossible for the Commanders of
various units to report their activities by radio at all, 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 attack.

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 every right to say so. But in the absence of all
the facts, as revealed by official sources, you have no right in
the ethics of patriotism to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a
way as to make people believe that 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 up 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
material 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 production.

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

But it is all only a beginning of what still 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, 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
throughout 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
seven 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 life.

It is not a sacrifice for any man, old or young, to be in the Army
or the Navy of the United States. Rather it is 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 it is 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 use of articles of food. There
is enough food today for all of us and enough left over to send to
those who are fighting on the same side with us.

But there will be a clear and definite shortage of metals for many
kinds of 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. Yes, we shall have to
give up many things entirely.

And 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 that
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 that they are asked to give up.

And 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 we “will make
very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger
us.” 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 three
days–we have learned a terrible lesson.

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

And what we 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 any more.

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 Ear East, but also all of the Islands
in the Pacific, and also a stranglehold on the west coast of North,
Central and South America.

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