The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

At ten o’clock yesterday morning the government took over the
mines. I called upon the miners to return to work for their
government. The government needs their services just as surely as
it needs the services of our soldiers, and sailors, and marines–
and the services of the millions who are turning out the munitions
of war.

You miners have sons in the Army and Navy and Marine Corps. You
have sons who at this very minute–this split second–may be
fighting in New Guinea, or in the Aleutian Islands, or Guadalcanal,
or Tunisia, or China, or protecting troop ships and supplies
against submarines on the high seas. We have already received
telegrams from some of our fighting men overseas, and I only wish
they could tell you what they think of the stoppage of work in the
coal mines.

Some of your own sons have come back from the fighting fronts,
wounded. A number of them, for example, are now here in an Army
hospital in Washington. Several of them have been decorated by
their government.

I could tell you of one from Pennsylvania. He was a coal miner
before his induction, and his father is a coal miner. He was
seriously wounded by Nazi machine gun bullets while he was on a
bombing mission over Europe in a Flying Fortress.

Another boy, from Kentucky, the son of a coal miner, was wounded
when our troops first landed in North Africa six months ago.

There is still another, from Illinois. He was a coal miner–his
father and two brothers are coal miners. He was seriously wounded
in Tunisia while attempting to rescue two comrades whose jeep had
been blown up by a Nazi mine.

These men do not consider themselves heroes. They would probably be
embarrassed if I mentioned their names over the air. They were
wounded in the line of duty. They know how essential it is to the
tens of thousands–hundreds of thousands–and ultimately millions
of other young Americans to get the best of arms and equipment into
the hands of our fighting forces–and get them there quickly.

The fathers and mothers of our fighting men, their brothers and
sisters and friends–and that includes all of us–are also in the
line of duty–the production line. Any failure in production may
well result in costly defeat on the field of battle.

There can be no one among us–no one faction powerful enough to
interrupt the forward march of our people to victory.

You miners have ample reason to know that there are certain basic
rights for which this country stands, and that those rights are
worth fighting for and worth dying for. That is why you have sent
your sons and brothers from every mining town in the nation to join
in the great struggle overseas. That is why you have contributed so
generously, so willingly, to the purchase of war bonds and to the
many funds for the relief of war victims in foreign lands. That is
why, since this war was started in 1939, you have increased the
annual production of coal by almost two hundred million tons a
year.

The toughness of your sons in our armed forces is not surprising.
They come of fine, rugged stock. Men who work in the mines are not
unaccustomed to hardship. It has been the objective of this
government to reduce that hardship, to obtain for miners and for
all who do the nation’s work a better standard of living.

I know only too well that the cost of living is troubling the
miners’ families, and troubling the families of millions of other
workers throughout the country as well.

A year ago it became evident to all of us that something had to be
done about living costs. Your government determined not to let the
cost of living continue to go up as it did in the first World War.

Your government has been determined to maintain stability of both
prices and wages–so that a dollar would buy, so far as possible,
the same amount of the necessities of life. And by necessities I
mean just that–not the luxuries, not the fancy goods that we have
learned to do without in wartime.

So far, we have not been able to keep the prices of some
necessities as low as we should have liked to keep them. That is
true not only in coal towns but in many other places.

Wherever we find that prices of essentials have risen too high,
they will be brought down. Wherever we find that price ceilings are
being violated, the violators will be punished.

Rents have been fixed in most parts of the country. In many cities
they have been cut to below where they were before we entered the
war. Clothing prices have generally remained stable.

These two items make up more than a third of the total budget of
the worker’s family.

As for food, which today accounts for about another third of the
family expenditure on the average, I want to repeat again: your
government will continue to take all necessary measures to
eliminate unjustified and avoidable price increases. And we are
today taking measures to “roll back” the prices of meats.

The war is going to go on. Coal will be mined no matter what any
individual thinks about it. The operation of our factories, our
power plants, our railroads will not be stopped. Our munitions must
move to our troops.

And so, under these circumstances, it is inconceivable that any
patriotic miner can choose any course other than going back to work
and mining coal.

The nation cannot afford violence of any kind at the coal mines or
in coal towns. I have placed authority for the resumption of coal
mining in the hands of a civilian, the Secretary of the Interior.
If it becomes necessary to protect any miner who seeks
patriotically to go back and work, then that miner must have and
his family must have–and will have–complete and adequate
protection. If it becomes necessary to have troops at the mine
mouths or in coal towns for the protection of working miners and
their families, those troops will be doing police duty for the sake
of the nation as a whole, and particularly for the sake of the
fighting men in the Army, the Navy and the Marines–your sons and
mine–who are fighting our common enemies all over the world.

I understand the devotion of the coal miners to their union. I know
of the sacrifices they have made to build it up. I believe now, as
I have all my life, in the right of workers to join unions and to
protect their unions. I want to make it absolutely clear that this
government is not going to do anything now to weaken those rights
in the coal fields.

Every improvement in the conditions of the coal miners of this
country has had my hearty support, and I do not mean to desert them
now. But I also do not mean to desert my obligations and
responsibilities as President of the United States and Commander-
in-Chief of the Army and Navy.

The first necessity is the resumption of coal mining. The terms of
the old contract will be followed by the Secretary of the Interior.
If an adjustment in wages results from a decision of the War Labor
Board, or from any new agreement between the operators and miners,
which is approved by the War Labor Board, that adjustment will be
made retroactive to April first.

In the message that I delivered to the Congress four months ago, I
expressed my conviction that the spirit of this nation is good.

Since then, I have seen our troops in the Caribbean area, in bases
on the coasts of our ally, Brazil, and in North Africa. Recently I
have again seen great numbers of our fellow countrymen–soldiers
and civilians–from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Mexican border and
to the Rocky Mountains.

Tonight, in the fact of a crisis of serious proportions in the coal
industry, I say again that the spirit or this nation is good. I
know that the American people will not tolerate any threat offered
to their government by anyone. I believe the coal miners will not
continue the strike against their government. I believe that the
coal miners as Americans will not fail to heed the clear call to
duty. Like all other good Americans, they will march shoulder to
shoulder with their armed forces to victory.

Tomorrow the Stars and Stripes will fly over the coal mines, and I
hope that every miner will be at work under that flag.

July 28, 1943.

My Fellow Americans:

Over a year and a half ago I said this to the Congress: “The
militarists in Berlin, and Rome and Tokyo started this war, but the
massed angered forces of common humanity will finish it.”

Today that prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled. The
massed, angered forces of common humanity are on the march. They
are going forward–on the Russian front, in the vast Pacific area,
and into Europe–converging upon their ultimate objectives: Berlin
and Tokyo.

I think the first crack in the Axis has come. The criminal, corrupt
Fascist regime in Italy is going to pieces.

The pirate philosophy of the Fascists and the Nazis cannot stand
adversity. The military superiority of the United Nations–on sea
and land, and in the air–has been applied in the right place and
at the right time.

Hitler refused to send sufficient help to save Mussolini. In fact,
Hitler’s troops in Sicily stole the Italians’ motor equipment,
leaving Italian soldiers so stranded that they had no choice but to
surrender. Once again the Germans betrayed their Italian allies, as
they had done time and time again on the Russian front and in the
long retreat from Egypt, through Libya and Tripoli, to the final
surrender in Tunisia.

And so Mussolini came to the reluctant conclusion that the “jig was
up”; he could see the shadow of the long arm of justice.

But he and his Fascist gang will be brought to book, and punished
for their crimes against humanity. No criminal will be allowed to
escape by the expedient of “resignation.”

So our terms to Italy are still the same as our terms to Germany
and Japan–“unconditional surrender.”

We will have no truck with Fascism in any way, in any shape or
manner. We will permit no vestige of Fascism to remain.

Eventually Italy will reconstitute herself. It will be the people
of Italy who will do that, choosing their own government in
accordance with the basic democratic principles of liberty and
equality. In the meantime, the United Nations will not follow the
pattern set by Mussolini and Hitler and the Japanese for the
treatment of occupied countries–the pattern of pillage and
starvation.

We are already helping the Italian people in Sicily. With their
cordial cooperation, we are establishing and maintaining security
and order–we are dissolving the organizations which have kept them
under Fascist tyranny–we are providing them with the necessities
of life until the time comes when they can fully provide for
themselves.

Indeed, the people in Sicily today are rejoicing in the fact that
for the first time in years they are permitted to enjoy the fruits
of their own labors–they can eat what they themselves grow,
instead of having it stolen from them by the Fascists and the
Nazis.

In every country conquered by the Nazis and the Fascists, or the
Japanese militarists, the people have been reduced to the status of
slaves or chattels.

It is our determination to restore these conquered peoples to the
dignity of human beings, masters of their own fate, entitled to
freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and
freedom from fear.

We have started to make good on that promise.

I am sorry if I step on the toes of those Americans who, playing
party politics at home, call that kind of foreign policy “crazy
altruism “and “starry-eyed dreaming.”

Meanwhile, the war in Sicily and Italy goes on. It must go on, and
will go on, until the Italian people realize the futility of
continuing to fight in a lost cause–a cause to which the people of
Italy never gave their wholehearted approval and support.

It is a little over a year since we planned the North African
campaign. It is six months since we planned the Sicilian campaign.
I confess that I am of an impatient disposition, but I think that I
understand and that most people understand the amount of time
necessary to prepare for any major military or naval operation. We
cannot just pick up the telephone and order a new campaign to start
the next week.

For example, behind the invasion forces in North Africa, the
invasion forces that went out of North Africa, were thousands of
ships and planes guarding the long, perilous sea lanes, carrying
the men, carrying the equipment and the supplies to the point of
attack. And behind all these were the railroad lines and the
highways here back home that carried the men and the munitions to
the ports of embarkation–there were the factories and the mines
and the farms here back home that turned out the materials–there
were the training camps here back home where the men learned how to
perform the strange and difficult and dangerous tasks which were to
meet them on the beaches and in the deserts and in the mountains.

All this had to be repeated, first in North Africa and then in the
attack on Sicily. Here the factor–in Sicily–the factor of air
attack was added–for we could use North Africa as the base for
softening up the landing places and lines of defense in Sicily, and
the lines of supply in Italy.

It is interesting for us to realize that every flying fortress that
bombed harbor installations at, for example, Naples, from its base
in North Africa required 1,110 gallons of gasoline for each single
mission, and that this is the equal of about 375 “A” ration
tickets–enough gas to drive your car five times across this
continent. You will better understand your part in the war–and
what gasoline rationing means–if you multiply this by the gasoline
needs of thousands of planes and hundreds of thousands of jeeps,
and trucks and tanks that are now serving overseas.

I think that the personal convenience of the individual, or the
individual family back home here in the United States will appear
somewhat less important when I tell you that the initial assault
force on Sicily involved 3,000 ships which carried 160,000 men–
Americans, British, Canadians and French–together with 14,000
vehicles, 600 tanks, and 1,800 guns. And this initial force was
followed every day and every night by thousands of reinforcements.

The meticulous care with which the operation in Sicily was planned
has paid dividends. Our casualties in men, in ships and material
have been low–in fact, far below our estimate.

And all of us are proud of the superb skill and courage of the
officers and men who have conducted and are conducting those
operations. The toughest resistance developed on the front of the
British Eighth Army, which included the Canadians. But that is no
new experience for that magnificent fighting force which has made
the Germans pay a heavy price for each hour of delay in the final
victory. The American Seventh Army, after a stormy landing on the
exposed beaches of southern Sicily, swept with record speed across
the island into the capital at Palermo. For many of our troops this
was their first battle experience, but they have carried themselves
like veterans.

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