The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I think the American people as a whole approve the salvage of these
human beings, who are only now learning to walk in a new atmosphere
of freedom.

Some of us may let our thoughts run to the financial cost of it.
Essentially it is what we can call a form of relief. And at the
same time, we hope that this relief will be an investment for the
future–an investment that will pay dividends by eliminating
Fascism, by ending any Italian desires to start another war of
aggression in the future. And that means that they are dividends
which justify such an investment, because they are additional
supports for world peace.

The Italian people are capable of self-government. We do not lose
sight of their virtues as a peace-loving nation.

We remember the many centuries in which the Italians were leaders
in the arts and sciences, enriching the lives of all mankind.

We remember the great sons of the Italian people–Galileo and
Marconi, Michelangelo and Dante–and incidentally that fearless
discoverer who typifies the courage of Italy–Christopher Columbus.

Italy cannot grow in stature by seeking to build up a great
militaristic empire. Italians have been overcrowded within their
own territories, but they do not need to try to conquer the lands
of other peoples in order to find the breath of life. Other peoples
may not want to be conquered.

In the past, Italians have come by the millions into the United
States. They have been welcomed, they have prospered, they have
become good citizens, community and governmental leaders. They are
not Italian-Americans. They are Americans–Americans of Italian
descent.

The Italians have gone in great numbers to the other Americas–
Brazil and the Argentine, for example–hundreds and hundreds of
thousands of them. They have gone to many other nations in every
continent of the world, giving of their industry and their talents,
and achieving success and the comfort of good living, and good
citizenship.

Italy should go on as a great mother nation, contributing to the
culture and the progress and the good will of all mankind–
developing her special talents in the arts and crafts and sciences,
and preserving her historic and cultural heritage for the benefit
of all peoples.

We want and expect the help of the future Italy toward lasting
peace. All the other nations opposed to Fascism and Nazism ought to
help to give Italy a chance.

The Germans, after years of domination in Rome, left the people in
the Eternal City on the verge of starvation. We and the British
will do and are doing everything we can to bring them relief.
Anticipating the fall of Rome, we made preparations to ship food
supplies to the city, but, of course, it should be borne in mind
that the needs are so great, the transportation requirements of our
armies so heavy, that improvement must be gradual. But we have
already begun to save the lives of the men, women and children of
Rome.

This, I think, is an example of the efficiency of your machinery of
war. The magnificent ability and energy of the American people in
growing the crops, building the merchant ships, in making and
collecting the cargoes, in getting the supplies over thousands of
miles of water, and thinking ahead to meet emergencies–all this
spells, I think, an amazing efficiency on the part of our armed
forces, all the various agencies working with them, and American
industry and labor as a whole.

No great effort like this can be a hundred percent perfect, but the
batting average is very, very high.

And so I extend the congratulations and thanks tonight of the
American people to General Alexander, who has been in command of
the whole Italian operation; to our General Clark and General Leese
of the Fifth and the Eighth Armies; to General Wilson, the Supreme
Allied commander of the Mediterranean theater, to General Devers,
his American Deputy; to General Eaker; to Admirals Cunningham and
Hewitt; and to all their brave officers and men.

May God bless them and watch over them and over all of our gallant,
fighting men.

June 23, 1944.

All our fighting men overseas today have their appointed stations
on the far-flung battlefronts of the world. We at home have ours
too. We need, we are proud of, our fighting men–most decidedly.
But, during the anxious times ahead, let us not forget that they
need us too.

It goes almost without saying that we must continue to forge the
weapons of victory–the hundreds of thousands of items, large and
small, essential to the waging of war. This has been the major task
from the very start, and it is still a major task. This is the very
worst time for any war worker to think of leaving his machine or to
look for a peacetime job.

And it goes almost without saying, too, that we must continue to
provide our government with the funds necessary for waging war not
only by the payment of taxes–which, after all, is an obligation of
American citizenship–but also by the purchase of war bonds–an act
of free choice which every citizen has to make for himself under
the guidance of his own conscience.

Whatever else any of us may be doing, the purchase of war bonds and
stamps is something all of us can do and should do to help win the
war.

I am happy to report tonight that it is something which nearly
everyone seems to be doing. Although there are now approximately
sixty-seven million persons who have or earn some form of income,
eighty-one million persons or their children have already bought
war bonds. They have bought more than six hundred million
individual bonds. Their purchases have totaled more than thirty-two
billion dollars. These are the purchases of individual men, women,
and children. Anyone who would have said this was possible a few
years ago would have been put down as a starry-eyed visionary. But
of such visions is the stuff of America fashioned.

Of course, there are always pessimists with us everywhere, a few
here and a few there. I am reminded of the fact that after the fall
of France in 1940 I asked the Congress for the money for the
production by the United States of fifty thousand airplanes that
year. Well, I was called crazy–it was said that the figure was
fantastic; that it could not be done. And yet today we are building
airplanes at the rate of one hundred thousand a year.

There is a direct connection between the bonds you have bought and
the stream of men and equipment now rushing over the English
Channel for the liberation of Europe. There is a direct connection
between your bonds and every part of this global war today.

Tonight, therefore, on the opening of this Fifth War Loan Drive, it
is appropriate for us to take a broad look at this panorama of
world war, for the success or the failure of the drive is going to
have so much to do with the speed with which we can accomplish
victory and the peace.

While I know that the chief interest tonight is centered on the
English Channel and on the beaches and farms and the cities of
Normandy, we should not lose sight of the fact that our armed
forces are engaged on other battlefronts all over the world, and
that no one front can be considered alone without its proper
relation to all.

It is worth while, therefore, to make over-all comparisons with the
past. Let us compare today with just two years ago–June, 1942. At
that time Germany was in control of practically all of Europe, and
was steadily driving the Russians back toward the Ural Mountains.
Germany was practically in control of North Africa and the
Mediterranean, and was beating at the gates of the Suez Canal and
the route to India. Italy was still an important military and
supply factor–as subsequent, long campaigns have proved.

Japan was in control of the western Aleutian Islands; and in the
South Pacific was knocking at the gates of Australia and New
Zealand–and also was threatening India. Japan had seized control
of most of the Central Pacific.

American armed forces on land and sea and in the air were still
very definitely on the defensive, and in the building-up stage. Our
allies were bearing the heat and the brunt of the attack.

In 1942 Washington heaved a sigh of relief that the first war bond
issue had been cheerfully oversubscribed by the American people.
Way back in those days, two year ago, America was still hearing
from many “amateur strategists” and political critics, some of whom
were doing more good for Hitler than for the United States–two
years ago.

But today we are on the offensive all over the world–bringing the
attack to our enemies.

In the Pacific, by relentless submarine and naval attacks, and
amphibious thrusts, and ever-mounting air attack, we have deprived
the Japs of the power to check the momentum of our ever-growing and
ever-advancing military forces. We have reduced the Japs’ shipping
by more than three million tons. We have overcome their original
advantage in the air. We have cut off from a return to the homeland
tens of thousands of beleaguered Japanese troops who now face
starvation or ultimate surrender. And we have cut down their naval
strength, so that for many months they have avoided all risk of
encounter with our naval forces.

True, we still have a long way to go to Tokyo. But, carrying out
our original strategy of eliminating our European enemy first and
then turning all our strength to the Pacific, we can force the
Japanese to unconditional surrender or to national suicide much
more rapidly than has been thought possible.

Turning now to our enemy who is first on the list for destruction–
Germany has her back against the wall– in fact three walls at
once!

In the south–we have broken the German hold on central Italy. On
June 4, the city of Rome fell to the Allied armies. And allowing
the enemy no respite, the Allies are now pressing hard on the heels
of the Germans as they retreat northwards in ever-growing
confusion.

On the east–our gallant Soviet allies have driven the enemy back
from the lands which were invaded three years ago. The great Soviet
armies are now initiating crushing blows.

Overhead–vast Allied air fleets of bombers and fighters have been
waging a bitter air war over Germany and Western Europe. They have
had two major objectives: to destroy German war industries which
maintain the German armies and air forces; and to shoot the German
Luftwaffe out of the air. As a result, German production has been
whittled down continuously, and the German fighter forces now have
only a fraction of their former power.

This great air campaign, strategic and tactical, is going to
continue–with increasing power.

And on the west–the hammer blow which struck the coast of France
last Tuesday morning, less than a week ago, was the culmination of
many months of careful planning and strenuous preparation.

Millions of tons of weapons and supplies, and hundreds of thousands
of men assembled in England, are now being poured into the great
battle in Europe.

I think that from the standpoint of our enemy we have achieved the
impossible. We have broken through their supposedly impregnable
wall in northern France. But the assault has been costly in men and
costly in materials. Some of our landings were desperate
adventures; but from advices received so far, the losses were lower
than our commanders had estimated would occur. We have established
a firm foothold. We are now prepared to meet the inevitable
counterattacks of the Germans– with power and with confidence. And
we all pray that we will have far more, soon, than a firm foothold.

Americans have all worked together to make this day possible.

The liberation forces now streaming across the Channel, and up the
beaches and through the fields and the forests of France are using
thousands and thousands of planes and ships and tanks and heavy
guns. They are carrying with them many thousands of items needed
for their dangerous, stupendous undertaking. There is a shortage of
nothing–nothing! And this must continue.

What has been done in the United States since those days of 1940–
when France fell–in raising and equipping and transporting our
fighting forces, and in producing weapons and supplies for war, has
been nothing short of a miracle. It was largely due to American
teamwork– teamwork among capital and labor and agriculture,
between the armed forces and the civilian economy–indeed among all
of them.

And every one–every man or woman or child–who bought a war bond
helped–and helped mightily!

There are still many people in the United States who have not
bought war bonds, or who have not bought as many as they can
afford. Everyone knows for himself whether he falls into that
category or not. In some cases his neighbors know too. To the
consciences of those people, this appeal by the President of the
United States is very much in order.

For all of the things which we use in this war, everything we send
to our fighting allies, costs money–a lot of money. One sure way
every man, woman, and child can keep faith with those who have
given, and are giving, their lives, is to provide the money which
is needed to win the final victory.

I urge all Americans to buy war bonds without stint. Swell the
mighty chorus to bring us nearer to victory!

END

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