Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy.

In a more serious vein, today marks the 63rd anniversary of the attack by Japan upon Pearl Harbor.

In studying history, I have always found it best to stray a few days from the hard dates that are set down in the history books as days of remembrance. People tend to think they have the story of a particular day in all its details, but you can occasionally get an even better idea what people are thinking when you read something from a day or two later. And it can occasionally even give some valuable advice for the present.

Such is the case with Roosevelt's Fireside Chat of December 9, 1941. Be sure and read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts that I felt were particularly interesting:

[...] We are now in this war. We are all in it -- all the way. Every single man, woman and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history. We must share together the bad news and the good news, the defeats and the victories -- the changing fortunes of war.

So far, the news has been all bad. We have suffered a serious setback in Hawaii. Our forces in the Philippines, which include the brave people of that Commonwealth, are taking punishment, but are defending themselves vigorously. The reports from Guam and Wake and Midway Islands are still confused, but we must be prepared for the announcement that all these three outposts have been seized.

The casualty lists of these first few days will undoubtedly be large. I deeply feel the anxiety of all of the families of the men in our armed forces and the relatives of people in cities which have been bombed. I can only give them my solemn promise that they will get news just as quickly as possible.

This Government will put its trust in the stamina of the American people, and will give the facts to the public just as soon as two conditions have been fulfilled: first, that the information has been definitely and officially confirmed; and, second, that the release of the information at the time it is received will not prove valuable to the enemy directly or indirectly.

Most earnestly I urge my countrymen to reject all rumors. These ugly little hints of complete disaster fly thick and fast in wartime. They have to be examined and appraised. [...]

Again, from this distance through time, we know how the story ends and we think we know that everyone was pulling together. But there were traitors then, just as now. There were those calling for accomodation and appeasement then, just as now. Earlier in the address, FDR remarks that this attack was the culmination of a decade of Japanese military expansionism. Such was the price for trying to deal with honor against a dishonorable adversary.

[...] Many rumors and reports which we now hear originate, of course, with enemy sources. For instance, today the Japanese are claiming that as a result of their one action against Hawaii they hare gained naval supremacy in the Pacific. This is an old trick of propaganda which has been used innumerable times by the Nazis. The purposes of such fantastic claims are, of course, to spread fear and confusion among us, and to goad us into revealing military information which our enemies are desperately anxious to obtain.

Our Government will not be caught in this obvious trap -- and neither will the people of the United States.

It must be remembered by each and every one of us that our free and rapid communication these days must be greatly restricted in wartime. It is not possible to receive full and speedy and accurate reports front distant areas of combat. This is particularly true where naval operations are concerned. For in these days of the marvels of the radio it is often impossible for the Commanders of various units to report their activities by radio at all, for the very simple reason that this information would become available to the enemy and would disclose their position and their plan of defense or attack.

Of necessity there will be delays in officially confirming or denying reports of operations, but we will not hide facts from the country if we know the facts and if the enemy will not be aided by their disclosure.

To all newspapers and radio stations -- all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people -- I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the nation now and for the duration of this war.

If you feel that your Government is not disclosing enough of the truth, you have every right to say so. But in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official sources, you have no right in the ethics of patriotism to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a way as to make people believe that they are gospel truth.

Every citizen, in every walk of life, shares this same responsibility. The lives of our soldiers and sailors -- the whole future of this nation -- depend upon the manner in which each and every one of us fulfills his obligation to our country. [...] [emphasis added]

Interesting take on the duties and obligations of the government and the press. One wonders if those exact words came out of our current President, or out of the mouth of his outgoing Attorney General, how much of a hue and cry there would be about jackbooted oppression and muzzling the press. I would imagine, probably a lot. Go figure.

[...] On the road ahead there lies hard work -- grueling work -- day and night, every hour and every minute.

I was about to add that ahead there lies sacrifice for all of us.

But it is not correct to use that word. The United States does not consider it a sacrifice to do all one can, to give one's best to our nation, when the nation is fighting for its existence and its future life.

It is not a sacrifice for any man, old or young, to be in the Army or the Navy of the United States. Rather it is a privilege.

It is not a sacrifice for the industrialist or the wage earner, the farmer or the shopkeeper, the trainmen or the doctor, to pay more taxes, to buy more bonds, to forego extra profits, to work longer or harder at the task for which he is best fitted. Rather it is a privilege.

It is not a sacrifice to do without many things to which we are accustomed if the national defense calls for doing without it. [...]

And I am sure that the people in every part of the nation are prepared in their individual living to win this war. I am sure that they will cheerfully help to pay a large part of its financial cost while it goes on. I am sure they will cheerfully give up those material things that they are asked to give up.

And I am sure that they will retain all those great spiritual things without which we cannot win through. [...]

Yep, believe it or not, Democrats used to believe this stuff. Might be good for them to look into it again, because there's a pretty wide swath of the country that still believes it.

[...] I repeat that the United States can accept no result save victory, final and complete. Not only must the shame of Japanese treachery be wiped out, but the sources of international brutality, wherever they exist, must be absolutely and finally broken.

In my Message to the Congress yesterday I said that we "will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again." In order to achieve that certainty, we must begin the great task that is before us by abandoning once and for all the illusion that we can ever again isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity.

In these past few years -- and, most violently, in the past three days -- we have learned a terrible lesson.

It is our obligation to our dead -- it is our sacred obligation to their children and to our children -- that we must never forget what we have learned.

And what we have learned is this:

There is no such thing as security for any nation -- or any individual -- in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism.

There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not immune from severe attack -- that we cannot measure our safety in terms of miles on any map any more.

We may acknowledge that our enemies have performed a brilliant feat of deception, perfectly timed and executed with great skill. It was a thoroughly dishonorable deed, but we must face the fact that modern warfare as conducted in the Nazi manner is a dirty business. We don't like it -- we didn't want to get in it -- but we are in it and we're going to fight it with everything we've got.

I do not think any American has any doubt of our ability to administer proper punishment to the perpetrators of these crimes. [...]

Remember, that while this is being spoken, it would be another six months--the Battle of Midway in June of 1942--before there would be a turning point in the Pacific. Until then, Dutch Borneo, Singapore, Rangoon, the Philipines, Wake Islands, Bataan, Corregidor would all fall, with tremendous loss of life and suffering.

Yet, there was still confidence in ultimate victory.

[...] The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle. When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers -- we are builders.

We are now in the midst of a war, not for conquest, not for vengeance, but for a world in which this nation, and all that this nation represents, will be safe for our children. We expect to eliminate the danger from Japan, but it would serve us ill if we accomplished that and found that the rest of the world was dominated by Hitler and Mussolini.

So we are going to win the war and we are going to win the peace that follows.

And in the difficult hours of this day -- through dark days that may be yet to come -- we will know that the vast majority of the members of the human race are on our side. Many of them are fighting with us. All of them are praying for us. But, in representing our cause, we represent theirs as well -- our hope and their hope for liberty under God. [...]

Indeed, and amen.

To those who served in the Second World War, and to their families, there are still those who remember and honor your devotion to your nation, and thank you for it.

To the men and women who followed you--to Korea, to Viet Nam, to the Middle East--your service is of equal merit and of equal importance, and likewise we offer you equal thanks.

To the men and women who today find themselves on foreign soil, fighting once more against an inhuman and inhumane foe, remember that just as it was 63 years ago it is today--in these difficult and dark days, you represent our hopes and the hopes of the world for liberty under God. May He grant you safety and courage, and may you always do your duty.

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