Monday, December 08, 2008

December 8, 1941: America Declares War on Japan

Herewith the Day of Infamy Speech, delivered 67 years ago today. Despite all the ruinous policies and practices that FDR has to answer for, even an unreconstructed conservative like myself has to admit he could deliver a stirring speech -- and this one is a fine specimen of the kind of powerful, straightforward rhetoric that is practically extinct in our present mealy-mouthed age.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State of form reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government had deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

1 comment:

  1. One should always remember that the oil and steel embargo on Japan by the United States forced Japan to go to war, and that the US was reading most of the Japanese ciphers at the time, and therefore knew their plans ( which is why the vital aircraft carriers were not a sitting duck at Pearl Harbour ).

    The "Day of Infamy" was an American trap. In view of the appalling Japanese record in China, it is a good thing that Japan was stopped in it's tracks, but the truth needs to be known.

    Unfortunately, Hollywood myths and legends have re-written history again and again. For example, it was the British who captured a U-Boat with an Enigma cipher machine intact, but Hollywood made it an American exploit. This propensity to re-write history is one of the traits of character of some Americans that has harmed her international standing.