Words That Men Live By
Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1942)
WASHINGTON, D. C., Jan. 6, 1942 - President Roosevelt called today for total national mobilization in the new world war thrust upon the United States – “our task is unprecedented and the time is short.”
This was the all-pervading theme of his message on the state of the Union, which traditionally opens the new session of the Congress, and which today came only one month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, as a result of which the Congress already had been called into special session.
In the meantime, every possible step has been taken to place the Unites States on a war footing, in contrast with the defense posture of the security program which earlier was the rule.
In the meantime, also, the new and active alliance between Great Britain and the United States was dramatized by a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who both conferred with President Roosevelt and delivered an address, by invitation, to a joint session of the Congressional bodies.
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States:
In fulfilling my duty to report on the state of the Union, I am proud to say to you that the spirit of the American people was never higher than it is today. The Union was never more closely knit together and this country was never more deeply determined to face the solemn tasks before it.
The response of the American people has been instantaneous, and it will be sustained until our security is assured.
Exactly one year ago today I said to this Congress: “When the dictators are ready to make war upon us they will not wait for an act of war on our part. They, not we, will choose the time and the place and the method of their attack.”
We now know their choice of the time, a peaceful December morning, Dec. 7, 1941.
We know their choice of the place, an outpost, an American outpost, in the Pacific.
We know their choice of the method, the method of Hitler himself.
Japan’s scheme of conquest goes back half a century. It is not merely a policy of seeking living room, it was a plan which included the subjugation of all the peoples in the Far East and in the islands of the Pacific, and the domination of that ocean by Japanese military and naval control of the western coasts of North, Central and South America….
When Hitler organized his Berlin-Rome-Tokyo alliance, all these plane of conquest became a single plan. Under this, in addition to her own schemes of conquest, Japan’s role was obviously to cut off our supply of weapons of war to Britain and Russia and China, weapons which increasingly were speeding the day of Hitler’s doom. The act of Japan at Pearl Harbor was intended to stun us, to terrify us to such an extent that we would divert our industrial and military strength to the Pacific area or even to our own continental defense.
The plan has failed in its purpose. We have not been stunned. We have not been terrified or confused. This very reassembling of the Seventy-seventh Congress today is proof of that. For the mood of quiet grim resolution which here prevails bodes ill for those who conspired and collaborated to murder world peace….
Admittedly, we have been faced with hard choices. It was bitter, for example, not to relieve the heroic and historic defenders of Wake Island. It was bitter for us not to be able to land a million men from a thousand ships in the Philippine Islands.
But this adds only to our determination to see to it that the Stars and Stripes will fly again over Wake and Guam, and that the brave people of the Philippines will be rid of Japanese imperialism and will live in freedom and security and independence.
Powerful and offensive actions must and will be taken in proper time. The consolidation of the United Nations’ total war effort against our common enemy is being achieved.
That was and is the purpose of conferences which have been held during the past two weeks in Washington and Moscow and Chungking. This is the primary objective of the declaration of solidarity signed in Washington on Jan. 1, 1942, by twenty-six nations against the Axis powers.
Difficult choices may have to be made in the months to come. We do not shrink from such decisions. We and those united with us will make those decisions with courage and determination.
Plans have been laid here and in the other capitals for coordinated and cooperative action by all the United Nations, military action and economic action. Already we have established, as you know, unified command of land, sea and air forces in the Southwestern Pacific theatre of war.
There will be a continuation of conferences and consultations among military staffs, so that the plans and operations of each will fit into the general strategy designed to crush the enemy. We shall not fight isolated wars, each nation going its own way. These twenty-six nations are united not in spirit and determination alone but in the broad conduct of the war in all its phases….
Our task is hard. Our task is unprecedented and the time is short. We must strain every existing armament-producing facility to the utmost. We must convert every available plant and tool to war production. That goes all the way from the greatest plants to the smallest, from the huge automobile industry to the village machine shop.
Production for war is based on men and women, the human hands and brains which collectively we call labor. Our workers stand ready to work and the fires burning twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. They realize well that on the speed and efficiency of their work depend the lives of their sons and brothers on the fighting front….
War costs money. So far we have hardly even begun to pay for it. We devoted only 15 per cent of our national income to national defense. As will appear in my budget message tomorrow, our war program for the coming fiscal year will cost $56,000,000,000 or in other words more than half of the estimated annual national income. That means taxes and bonds, and bonds and taxes. It means cutting luxuries and other nonessentials. In a word, it means an all-out war by individual effort and family effort in a united country….
As the United States goes into its full stride, we must always be on guard, on guard against misconception that will arise naturally or which will be planted among us by our enemies.
We must guard against complacency. We must not underrate the enemy. He is powerful and cunning, cruel and ruthless….
We must, on the other hand, guard against defeatism. That has been one of the chief weapons of Hitler’s propaganda machine, used time and again with deadly results. It will not be used successfully on the American people.
We must guard against divisions among ourselves and among all the other United Nations. We must be particularly vigilant against racial discrimination in any of its ugly forms….
We cannot wage this war in a defensive spirit. As our power and resources are fully mobilized we shall carry the attack against the enemy. We shall hit him, and hit him again, wherever and whenever we can reach him….
Many people ask, “When will this war end?” There is only one answer to that. It will end just as soon as we make it end by our combined efforts, our combined strength, our combined determination to fight through and work through until the end, the end of militarism in Germany and Italy and Japan. Most certainly we shall not settle for less.
That is the spirit in which discussions have been conducted during the visit of the British Prime Minister to Washington. Mr. Churchill and I understand each other, our motives and our purposes. Together during the past two weeks we have faced squarely the major military and economic problems of this greatest world war.
All in our nations have been cheered by Mr. Churchill’s visit. We have been deeply stirred by his great message to us. He is welcome in our midst now and in days to come. And we unite in wishing him a safe return to his home. For we are fighting on the same side with the British people who fought alone the long terrible months and withstood the enemy with fortitude and tenacity and skill.
We are fighting on the same side with the Russian people who have seen the Nazi hordes swarm up to the very gates of Moscow and who with almost superhuman will and courage have forced the invaders back into retreat.
We are fighting on the same side as the brave people of China, those millions who for four and a half long years have withstood bombs and starvation and have whipped the invaders time and again in spite of the superior Japanese equipment and arms.
Yes, we are fighting on the same side with the indomitable Dutch.
We are fighting on the same side as all the other governments in exile whom Hitler and all his armies and all his Gestapo have not been able to conquer.
But we of the United Nations are not making all this sacrifice of human effort and human lives to return to the kind of world we had after the last World War. We are fighting today for security and progress and for peace, not only for ourselves but for all men, not only for one generation but for all generations. We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills.
Our enemies are guided by brutal cynicism, by unholy contempt for the human race. We are inspired by a faith which goes back through all the years to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis – “God created man in his own image.”
We on our side are striving to be true to that divine heritage. We are fighting, as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God. Those on the other side are striving to destroy this deep belief and to create a world in their own image, a world of tyranny and cruelty and serfdom.
That is the conflict that day and night now pervades our lives. No compromise can end that conflict. There never has been and never can be successful compromise between good and evil. Only total victory can reward the champions of tolerance and decency and freedom and faith.Printable version