Today marks the 72 anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 72 years ago the United States was thrust into World War II. 72 Years ago the United States stepped onto the world stage as a force for liberty and justice. 72 years ago, an unprovoked act of villainy awoke the sleeping giant that had lay dormant for 22 years. I speak not of American industry, but American pride and spirit. The people of this nation realized that they had a purpose in this world. They remembered that the United States of America is meant to be a shinning city upon a hill. A beacon of hope for those who have none. The might of American Industry was let lose, people banded together, and they changed the world. 72 years ago today, the Empire of Japan broad sided the United States with a sledge hammer. The American People responded, they did not lie down, they stood up. The foolish act of an imperial nation did something that 22 years of keynesian economics could never have dreamt of doing, it united a nation, and freed them from the shackles of depression.
So today I would ask everyone to search their souls. To those willing to dive into even the darkest corners of their mind, I ask them to consider the world we live in, the troubles facing our nation, and to compare them to the struggles and hardships that faced the nation 72 years ago. Our grandparents faced the worst economic crisis the nation had ever seen. fascism was on the march, the National Socialist Workers Party had turned Germany into a totalitarians state. A state that was spreading like a plague a crossed Europe. The for most super power of the world, The United Kingdom of Great Britain, tried appeasing the beast that was Nazi Germany, but all this did was wet the monsters appetite. Tyranny was on the march, the light of liberty seemed destined to be extinguished forever. Then a hostile nation managed to cripple the entire pacific fleet. They could have laid down, and accepted defeat, but no they stood up and not only snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, they spat in its face. Our grandparents faced all of that, and brought an unprecedented era of joy and prosperity to our nation. They pulled themselves up, they stopped hoping someone would come along and save them. They realized that they had to save themselves. They decided to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and saved the world. I submit to you that when you compare our challenges today, to the disasters that they faced, ours amount to nothing. If they can do it, why can’t we. What is holding you back. Don’t wait for help, don’t wait for a hand to help you up, be the hand.
I leave you with the words of FDR.
“Yesterday, December 7th, 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 the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of 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 has 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. I regret to tell you that 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 Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today 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. But always will our whole nation 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 that 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 it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
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 unbounding 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 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.