08 December 2008

A speech that changed a nation



Full text of the speech:

Mr. Vice President [Henry A. Wallace], Mr. Speaker [Sam Rayburn], members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: 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.

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