The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

And we must give credit for the coordination of the diverse forces
in the field, and for the planning of the whole campaign, to the
wise and skillful leadership of General Eisenhower. Admiral
Cunningham, General Alexander and Sir Marshal Tedder have been
towers of strength in handling the complex details of naval and
ground and air activities.

You have heard some people say that the British and the Americans
can never get along well together–you have heard some people say
that the Army and the Navy and the Air Forces can never get along
well together–that real cooperation between them is impossible.
Tunisia and Sicily have given the lie, once and for all, to these
narrow-minded prejudices.

The dauntless fighting spirit of the British people in this war has
been expressed in the historic words and deeds of Winston
Churchill–and the world knows how the American people feel about
him.

Ahead of us are much bigger fights. We and our Allies will go into
them as we went into Sicily–together. And we shall carry on
together.

Today our production of ships is almost unbelievable. This year we
are producing over nineteen million tons of merchant shipping and
next year our production will be over twenty-one million tons. And
in addition to our shipments across the Atlantic, we must realize
that in this war we are operating in the Aleutians, in the distant
parts of the Southwest Pacific, in India, and off the shores of
South America.

For several months we have been losing fewer ships by sinkings, and
we have been destroying more and more U-boats. We hope this will
continue. But we cannot be sure. We must not lower our guard for
one single instant.

One tangible result of our great increase in merchant shipping–
which I think will be good news to civilians at home–is that
tonight we are able to terminate the rationing of coffee. We also
expect that within a short time we shall get greatly increased
allowances of sugar.

Those few Americans who grouse and complain about the
inconveniences of life here in the United States should learn some
lessons from the civilian populations of our Allies–Britain, and
China, and Russia–and of all the lands occupied by our common
enemy.

The heaviest and most decisive fighting today is going on in
Russia. I am glad that the British and we have been able to
contribute somewhat to the great striking power of the Russian
armies.

In 1941-1942 the Russians were able to retire without breaking, to
move many of their war plants from western Russia far into the
interior, to stand together with complete unanimity in the defense
of their homeland.

The success of the Russian armies has shown that it is dangerous to
make prophecies about them–a fact which has been forcibly brought
home to that mystic master of strategic intuition, Herr Hitler.

The short-lived German offensive, launched early this month, was a
desperate attempt to bolster the morale of the German people. The
Russians were not fooled by this. They went ahead with their own
plans for attack–plans which coordinate with the whole United
Nations’ offensive strategy.

The world has never seen greater devotion, determination and self-
sacrifice than have been displayed by the Russian people and their
armies, under the leadership of Marshal Joseph Stalin.

With a nation which in saving itself is thereby helping to save all
the world from the Nazi menace, this country of ours should always
be glad to be a good neighbor and a sincere friend in the world of
the future.

In the Pacific, we are pushing the Japs around from the Aleutians
to New Guinea. There too we have taken the initiative–and we are
not going to let go of it.

It becomes clearer and clearer that the attrition, the whittling
down process against the Japanese is working. The Japs have lost
more planes and more ships than they have been able to replace.

The continuous and energetic prosecution of the war of attrition
will drive the Japs back from their over-extended line running from
Burma and Siam and the Straits Settlement through the Netherlands
Indies to eastern New Guinea and the Solomons. And we have good
reason to believe that their shipping and their air power cannot
support such outposts.

Our naval and land and air strength in the Pacific is constantly
growing. And if the Japanese are basing their future plans for the
Pacific on a long period in which they will be permitted to
consolidate and exploit their conquered resources, they had better
start revising their plans now. I give that to them merely as a
helpful suggestion.

We are delivering planes and vital war supplies for the heroic
armies of Generalissimo Chiang Sai-shek, and we must do more at all
costs.

Our air supply line from India to China across enemy territory
continues despite attempted Japanese interference. We have seized
the initiative from the Japanese in the air over Burma and now we
enjoy superiority. We are bombing Japanese communications, supply
dumps, and bases in China, in Indo-China, in Burma.

But we are still far from our main objectives in the war against
Japan. Let us remember, however, how far we were a year ago from
any of our objectives in the European theatre. We are pushing
forward to occupation of positions which in time will enable us to
attack the Japanese Islands themselves from the North, from the
South, from the East, and from the West.

You have heard it said that while we are succeeding greatly on the
fighting front, we are failing miserably on the home front. I think
this is another of those immaturities–a false slogan easy to state
but untrue in the essential facts.

For the longer this war goes on the clearer it becomes that no one
can draw a blue pencil down the middle of a page and call one side
“the fighting front” and the other side “the home front.” For the
two of them are inexorably tied together.

Every combat division, every naval task force, every squadron of
fighting planes is dependent for its equipment and ammunition and
fuel and food, as indeed it is for its manpower, dependent on the
American people in civilian clothes in the offices and in the
factories and on the farms at home.

The same kind of careful planning that gained victory in North
Africa and Sicily is required, if we are to make victory an
enduring reality and do our share in building the kind of peaceful
world that will justify the sacrifices made in this war.

The United Nations are substantially agreed on the general
objectives for the post-war world. They are also agreed that this
is not the time to engage in an international discussion of _all_
the terms of peace and _all_ the details of the future. Let us win
the war first. We must not relax our pressure on the enemy by
taking time out to define every boundary and settle every political
controversy in every part of the world. The important thing–the
all-important thing now is to get on with the war–and to win it.

While concentrating on military victory, we are not neglecting the
planning of the things to come, the freedoms which we know will
make for more decency and greater justice throughout the world.

Among many other things we are, today, laying plans for the return
to civilian life of our gallant men and women in the armed
services. They must not be demobilized into an environment of
inflation and unemployment, to a place on a bread line, or on a
corner selling apples. We must, this time, have plans ready–
instead of waiting to do a hasty, inefficient, and ill-considered
job at the last moment.

I have assured our men in the armed forces that the American people
would not let them down when the war is won.

I hope that the Congress will help in carrying out this assurance,
for obviously the executive branch of the government cannot do it
alone. May the Congress do its duty in this regard. The American
people will insist on fulfilling this American obligation to the
men and women in the armed forces who are winning this war for us.

Of course, the returning soldier and sailor and marine are a part
of the problem of demobilizing the rest of the millions of
Americans who have been working and living in a war economy since
1941. That larger objective of reconverting wartime America to a
peacetime basis is one for which your government is laying plans to
be submitted to the Congress for action.

But the members of the armed forces have been compelled to make
greater economic sacrifice and every other kind of sacrifice than
the rest of us, and they are entitled to definite action to help
take care of their special problems.

The least to which they are entitled, it seems to me, is something
like this:

First, mustering-out pay to every member of the armed forces and
merchant marine when he or she is honorably discharged; mustering-
out pay large enough in each case to cover a reasonable period of
time between his discharge and the finding of a new job.

Second, in case no job is found after diligent search, then
unemployment insurance if the individual registers with the United
States Employment Service.

Third, an opportunity for members of the armed services to get
further education or trade training at the cost of the government.

Fourth, allowance of credit to all members of the armed forces,
under unemployment compensation and federal old-age and survivors’
insurance, for their period of service. For these purposes they
ought to be treated as if they had continued their employment in
private industry.

Fifth, improved and liberalized provisions for hospitalization, for
rehabilitation, for medical care of disabled members of the armed
forces and the merchant marine.

And finally, sufficient pensions for disabled members of the armed
forces.

Your government is drawing up other serious, constructive plans for
certain immediate forward moves. They concern food, manpower, and
other domestic problems that tie in with our armed forces.

Within a few weeks I shall speak with you again in regard to
definite actions to be taken by the executive branch of the
government, and specific recommendations for new legislation by the
Congress.

All our calculations for the future, however, must be based on
clear understanding of the problems involved. And that can be
gained only by straight thinking–not guesswork, not political
manipulation.

I confess that I myself am sometimes bewildered by conflicting
statements that I see in the press. One day I read an
“authoritative” statement that we shall win the war this year,
1943–and the next day comes another statement equally
“authoritative,” that the war will still be going on in 1949.

Of course, both extremes–of optimism and pessimism–are wrong.

The length of the war will depend upon the uninterrupted
continuance of all-out effort on the fighting fronts and here at
home, and that effort is all one.

The American soldier does not like the necessity of waging war. And
yet–if he lays off for one single instant he may lose his own life
and sacrifice the lives of his comrades.

By the same token–a worker here at home may not like the driving,
wartime conditions under which he has to work and live. And yet–if
he gets complacent or indifferent and slacks on his job, he too may
sacrifice the lives of American soldiers and contribute to the loss
of an important battle.

The next time anyone says to you that this war is “in the bag,” or
says “it’s all over but the shouting,” you should ask him these
questions:

“Are you working full time on your job?”

“Are you growing all the food you can?”

“Are you buying your limit of war bonds?”

“Are you loyally and cheerfully cooperating with your government in
preventing inflation and profiteering, and in making rationing work
with fairness to all?”

“Because–if your answer is ‘No’–then the war is going to last a
lot longer than you think.ҍ

The plans we made for the knocking out of Mussolini and his gang
have largely succeeded. But we still have to knock out Hitler and
his gang, and Tojo and his gang. No one of us pretends that this
will be an easy matter.

We still have to defeat Hitler and Tojo on their own home grounds.
But this will require a far greater concentration of our national
energy and our ingenuity and our skill.

It is not too much to say that we must pour into this war the
entire strength and intelligence and will power of the United
States. We are a great nation–a rich nation–but we are not so
great or so rich that we can afford to waste our substance or the
lives or our men by relaxing along the way.

We shall not settle for less than total victory. That is the
determination of every American on the fighting fronts. That must
be, and will be, the determination of every American here at home.

September 8, 1943.

My Fellow Americans:

Once upon a time, a few years ago, there was a city in our Middle
West which was threatened by a destructive flood in the great
river. The waters had risen to the top of the banks. Every man,
woman and child in that city was called upon to fill sand bags in
order to defend their homes against the rising waters. For many
days and nights, destruction and death stared them in the face.

As a result of the grim, determined community effort, that city
still stands. Those people kept the levees above the peak of the
flood. All of them joined together in the desperate job that had to
be done–business men, workers, farmers, and doctors, and
preachers–people of all races.

To me, that town is a living symbol of what community cooperation
can accomplish.

Today, in the same kind of community effort, only very much larger,
the United Nations and their peoples have kept the levees of
civilization high enough to prevent the floods of aggression and
barbarism and wholesale murder from engulfing us all. The flood has
been raging for four years. At last we are beginning to gain on it;
but the waters have not yet receded enough for us to relax our
sweating work with the sand bags. In this war bond campaign we are
filling bags and placing them against the flood–bags which are
essential if we are to stand off the ugly torrent which is trying
to sweep us all away.

Today, it is announced that an armistice with Italy has been
concluded.

This was a great victory for the United Nations–but it was also a
great victory for the Italian people. After years of war and
suffering and degradation, the Italian people are at last coming to
the day of liberation from their real enemies, the Nazis.

But let us not delude ourselves that this armistice means the end
of the war in the Mediterranean. We still have to drive the Germans
out of Italy as we have driven them out of Tunisia and Sicily; we
must drive them out of France and all other captive countries; and
we must strike them on their own soil from all directions.

Our ultimate objectives in this war continue to be Berlin and
Tokyo.

I ask you to bear these objectives constantly in mind–and do not
forget that we still have a long way to go before we attain them.

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