Full Text Obama Presidency June 6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day — Omaha Beach, Normandy

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day — Omaha Beach, Normandy

Source: WH, 6-6-14

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Omaha Beach
Normandy, France

11:16 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  President Hollande; to the people of France; friends; the family; our veterans:

If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world.

Captains paced their decks.  Pilots tapped their gauges.  Commanders pored over maps, fully aware that for all the months of meticulous planning, everything could go wrong — the winds, the tides, the element of surprise — and above all, the audacious bet that what waited on the other side of the Channel would compel men not to shrink away, but to charge ahead.

Fresh-faced GIs rubbed trinkets, kissed pictures of sweethearts, checked and re-checked their equipment. “God,” asked one, “give me guts.”  And in the pre-dawn hours, planes rumbled down runways; gliders and paratroopers slipped through the sky; giant screws began to turn on an armada that looked like more ships than sea.  And more than 150,000 souls set off towards this tiny sliver of sand upon which hung more than the fate of a war, but rather the course of human history.

President Hollande, distinguished guests, I’m honored to return here today to pay tribute to the men and women of a generation who defied every danger — among them, our veterans of D-Day.  And, gentlemen, we are truly humbled by your presence here today.  (Applause.)

Just last week, I received a letter from a French citizen.  “Dear Mr. President, and the American people,” he wrote, “[we are] honored to welcome you… to thank you again for all the pain and efforts of [the] American people and others in our common struggle for freedom.”

Today, we say the same to the people of France.  Thank you, especially, for the generosity that you’ve shown the Americans who’ve come here over the generations — to these beaches, and to this sacred place of rest for 9,387 Americans.  At the end of the war, when our ships set off for America, filled with our fallen, tens of thousands of liberated Europeans turned out to say farewell, and they pledged to take care of the more than 60,000 Americans who would remain in cemeteries on this continent.  In the words of one man, we will take care of the fallen “as if their tombs were our children’s.”  And the people of France, you have kept your word like the true friends you are.  We are forever grateful.  (Applause.)

Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are.  We don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is.  We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril.  We come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world.

We tell this story for the old soldiers who pull themselves a little straighter today to salute brothers who never made it home.  We tell the story for the daughter who clutches a faded photo of her father, forever young; for the child who runs his fingers over colorful ribbons he knows signify something of great consequence, even if he doesn’t yet fully understand why.  We tell this story to bear what witness we can to what happened when the boys from America reached Omaha Beach.

By daybreak, blood soaked the water, bombs broke the sky.  Thousands of paratroopers had dropped into the wrong landing sites; thousands of rounds bit into flesh and sand.  Entire companies’ worth of men fell in minutes.  “Hell’s Beach” had earned its name.

By 8:30 a.m., General Omar Bradley expected our troops to be a mile inland.  “Six hours after the landings,” he wrote, “we held only ten yards of beach.”  In this age of instant commentary, the invasion would have swiftly and roundly been declared, as it was by one officer, “a debacle.”

But such a race to judgment would not have taken into account the courage of free men.  “Success may not come with rushing speed,” President Roosevelt would say that night, “but we shall return again and again.”  And paratroopers fought through the countryside to find one another.  Rangers pulled themselves over those cliffs to silence Nazi guns.  To the west, Americans took Utah Beach with relative ease.  To the east, the British tore through the coast, fueled by the fury of five years of bombs over London and a solemn vow to “fight them on the beaches.”  The Canadians, whose shores had not been touched by war, drove far into France.  And here, at Omaha, troops who finally made it to the seawall used it as shelter — where a general barked, “If you’re Rangers… lead the way!”

By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought, and won — a piece of Europe once again liberated and free.  Hitler’s Wall was breached, letting loose Patton’s Army to pour into France.  Within a week, the world’s bloodiest beach had become the world’s busiest port.  Within a month, one million Allied troops thundered through Normandy into Europe, and as our armies marched across the continent, one pilot said it looked “as if the very crust of the Earth had shaken loose.”  The Arc de Triomphe lit up for the first time in years, and Paris was punctuated by shouts of “Vive la France!” and “Vive les États-Unis!”  (Applause.)

Of course, even as we gather here at Normandy, we remember that freedom’s victory was also made possible by so many others who wore America’s uniform.  Two years before he commanded armies, Eisenhower’s troops sliced through North Africa.  Three times before D-Day, our GIs stormed the beaches at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio.  Divisions like the Fighting 36th brawled their way through Italy, fighting through the mud for months, marching through towns past waving children before opening the gates to Rome.  As the “dogfaces” marched to victory in Europe, the Devil Dogs — the Marines — clawed their way from island to island in the Pacific, in some of the war’s fiercest fighting.  And back home, an army of women — including my grandmother — rolled up their sleeves to help build a mighty arsenal of democracy.

But it was here, on these shores, that the tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom.  What more powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom than the sight of wave after wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they had never met?

We say it now as if it couldn’t be any other way.  But in the annals of history, the world had never seen anything like it.  And when the war was won, we claimed no spoils of victory — we helped Europe rebuild.  We claimed no land other than the earth where we buried those who gave their lives under our flag and where we station those who still serve under it.  But America’s claim — our commitment — to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being — that claim is written in the blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity.

Omaha — Normandy — this was democracy’s beachhead.  And our victory in that war decided not just a century, but shaped the security and well-being of all posterity.  We worked to turn old adversaries into new allies.  We built new prosperity.  We stood once more with the people of this continent through a long twilight struggle until finally a wall tumbled down, and an Iron Curtain, too.  And from Western Europe to East, from South America to Southeast Asia — 70 years of democratic movement spread.  And nations that once knew only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom.

None of that would have happened without the men who were willing to lay down their lives for people they’d never met and ideals they couldn’t live without.

None of it would have happened without the troops President Roosevelt called “the life-blood of America… the hope of the world.”

They left home barely more than boys and returned home heroes.  But to their great credit, that is not how this generation carried itself.  After the war, some put away their medals, were quiet about their service, moved on.  Some, carrying shrapnel and scars, found that moving on was much harder.  Many, like my grandfather, who served in Patton’s Army, lived a quiet life, trading one uniform and set of responsibilities for another — as a teacher, or a salesman, or a doctor, or an engineer, a dad, a grandpa.

Our country made sure millions of them earned a college education, opening up opportunity on an unprecedented scale.  And they married those sweethearts and bought new homes and raised families and built businesses, lifting up the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  And through it all, they were inspired, I suspect, by memories of their fallen brothers — memories that drove them to live their lives each day as best they possibly could.

Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men.  Whenever you lose hope, stop and think of these men.

Think of Wilson Colwell, who was told he couldn’t pilot a plane without a high school degree, so he decided to jump out of a plane instead.  And he did, here on D-Day, with the 101st Airborne when he was just 16 years old.

Think of Harry Kulkowitz, the Jewish son of Russian immigrants, who fudged his age at enlistment so he could join his friends in the fight.  And don’t worry, Harry, the statute of limitations has expired.  (Laughter.)  Harry came ashore at Utah Beach on D-Day.  And now that he’s come back, we said he could have anything he wants for lunch today — he helped liberate this coast, after all.  But he said a hamburger would do fine.  (Laughter.)  What’s more American than that?

Think of “Rock” Merritt, who saw a recruitment poster asking him if he was man enough to be a paratrooper — so he signed up on the spot.  And that decision landed him here on D-Day with the 508th regiment, a unit that would suffer heavy casualties.  And 70 years later, it’s said that all across Fort Bragg, they know Rock — not just for his exploits on D-Day, or his 35 years in the Army, but because 91-year-old Rock Merritt still spends his time speaking to the young men and women of today’s Army and still bleeds “O.D. Green” for his 82nd Airborne.

Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness is possible — stop and think of these men.

Wilson and Harry and Rock, they are here today, and although I know we already gave them a rousing round of applause, along with all our veterans of D-Day — if you can stand, please stand; if not, please raise your hand.  Let us recognize your service once more.  (Applause.)  These men waged war so that we might know peace.  They sacrificed so that we might be free.  They fought in hopes of a day when we’d no longer need to fight.  We are grateful to them.  (Applause.)

And, gentlemen, I want each of you to know that your legacy is in good hands.  For in a time when it has never been more tempting to pursue narrow self-interest, to slough off common endeavor, this generation of Americans, a new generation — our men and women of war — have chosen to do their part as well.

Rock, I want you to know that Staff Sergeant Melvin Cedillo-Martin, who’s here today, is following in your footsteps.  He just had to become an American first — because Melvin was born in Honduras, moved to the United States, joined the Army.  After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne.  And Sunday, he’ll parachute into Normandy.  (Applause.)  “I became part of a family of real American heroes,” he said.  “The Paratroopers of the 82nd.”

Wilson, you should know that Specialist Jannise Rodriguez joined the Army not even two years ago, was assigned to the 101st Airborne, and just last month earned the title of the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault Soldier of the Year.  And that’s inspiring but not surprising, when the women of today’s military have taken on responsibilities, including combat, like never before.  (Applause.)

I want each of you to know that their commitment to their fellow servicemembers and veterans endures.  Sergeant First Class Brian Hawthorne’s grandfather served under General Patton and General MacArthur.  Brian himself served two tours in Iraq, earned the Bronze Star in Baghdad for saving the life of his best friend, and today, he and his wife use their experience to help other veterans and military families navigate theirs.  And Brian is here in Normandy to participate in Sunday’s jump, and here, just yesterday, he reenlisted in the Army Reserve.

And this generation — this 9/11 Generation of servicemembers — they, too, felt something.  They answered some call; they said “I will go.”  They, too, chose to serve a cause that’s greater than self — many even after they knew they’d be sent into harm’s way.  And for more than a decade, they have endured tour after tour.

Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg has served ten.  And I’ve told Cory’s incredible story before, most recently when he sat with my wife, Michelle, at the State of the Union address.  It was here, at Omaha Beach, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, where I first met Cory and his fellow Army Rangers, right after they made their own jump into Normandy.  The next time I saw him, he was in the hospital, unable to speak or walk after an IED nearly killed him in Afghanistan.  But over the past five years, Cory has grown stronger, learning to speak again and stand again and walk again.  And earlier this year, he jumped out of a plane again.  The first words Cory said to me after his accident echoed those words first shouted all those years ago on this beach:  “Rangers lead the way.”  (Applause.)

So Cory has come back today, along with Melvin and Jannise and Brian, and many of their fellow active-duty servicemembers.  We thank them for their service.  They are a reminder that the tradition represented by these gentlemen continues.

We are on this Earth for only a moment in time.  And fewer of us have parents and grandparents to tell us about what the veterans of D-Day did here 70 years ago.  As I was landing on Marine One, I told my staff, I don’t think there’s a time where I miss my grandfather more, where I’d be more happy to have him here, than this day.  So we have to tell their stories for them.  We have to do our best to uphold in our own lives the values that they were prepared to die for.  We have to honor those who carry forward that legacy, recognizing that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it.

And as today’s wars come to an end, this generation of servicemen and women will step out of uniform, and they, too, will build families and lives of their own.  They, too, will become leaders in their communities, in commerce, in industry, and perhaps politics — the leaders we need for the beachheads of our time.  And, God willing, they, too, will grow old in the land they helped to keep free.  And someday, future generations, whether 70 or 700 years hence, will gather at places like this to honor them and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.  (Applause.)

May God bless our veterans and all who served with them, including those who rest here in eternal peace.  And may God bless all who serve today for the peace and security of the world.  May God bless the people of France.  And may God bless our United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:43 A.M. CET

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Full Text December 7, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Statement by President Barack Obama on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Seventy years ago today, a bright Sunday morning was darkened by the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor.  Today, Michelle and I join the American people in honoring the memory of the more than 2,400 American patriots—military and civilian, men, women and children—who gave their lives in our first battle of the Second World War.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families for whom this day is deeply personal—the spouses, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters who have known seven decades without a loved one but who have kept their legacy alive for future generations.

We salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still.  Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory.  They are members of that Greatest Generation who overcame the Depression, crossed oceans and stormed the beaches to defeat fascism, and turned adversaries into our closest allies.  When the guns fell silent, they came home, went to school on the G.I. Bill, and built the largest middle class in history and the strongest economy in the world.  They remind us that no challenge is too great when Americans stand as one.  All of us owe these men and women a profound debt of gratitude for the freedoms and standard of living we enjoy today.

On this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we also reaffirm our commitment to carrying on their work—to keeping the country we love strong, free and prosperous.  And as today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end and we welcome home our 9/11 Generation, we resolve to always take care of our troops, veterans and military families as well as they’ve taken care of us.  On this solemn anniversary, there can be no higher tribute to the Americans who served and sacrificed seventy years ago today.

On This Day in History… December 7, 1941: 70th Anniversary of Japan’s Bombing Attack on Pearl Harbor

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:

Day in History

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

IN FOCUS: ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…. DECEMBER 7, 1941: 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF JAPAN BOMBING PEARL HARBOR

Official United States Navy Photograph

On this day in history… December 7, 1941: At 7:55 am local time, Japanese warplanes attacked the United States Pacific fleet at their base, Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. The Japanese hit nineteen ships, eight of which where battleships. The ships were either enturely sunk or severely damaged from the attack; this included 188 aircraft that were also wrecked. The attacks killed 2,280 and wounded 1,109 from the military, and also killed 68 civilians.

The next day on December 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress, calling December 7 a date that will live in infamy, and declaring war against Japan; leading the United States into World War II.

THE HEADLINES THEN…

GUAM BOMBED; ARMY SHIP IS SUNK; U.S. Fliers Head North From Manila — Battleship Oklahoma Set Afire by Torpedo Planes at Honolulu 104 SOLDIERS KILLED AT FIELD IN HAWAII President Fears ‘Very Heavy Losses’ on Oahu — Churchill Notifies Japan That a State of War Exists Japan Starts War on U.S.; Hawaii and Guam Bombed — New York Times, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

Congress Declares War on Japan; 3,000 Casualties in Hawaii Air Raid; Senate votes 82 to 0, House 388 to 1 within 33 minutes after President’s address–Two U.S. warships sunk, others damaged– Washington reports destruction of Tokyo planes and subs. Losses In Pearl Harbor World War in Fact 3,000 Casualties in Air Raid on Hawaii Counterattack Starts Landon Pledges Support War Against the Axis Attack on Hawaii Congress Votes Declaration Of War Against Japan More Aid for President Connally’s Resolution — Christian Science, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

TOKYO ACTS FIRST; Declaration Follows Air and Sea Attacks on U.S. and Britain TOGO CALLS ENVOYS After Fighting Is On, Grew Gets Japan’s Reply to Hull Note of Nov. 26 TOKYO ACTS FIRST AND DECLARES WAR By The Associated Press, New York Times, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1.

U.S. AND JAPS AT WAR; CONGRESS GETS F.D.R. MESSAGE IN CRISIS TODAY Report Fleet Acts to Contact Foe — Chicago Daily Tribune: Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

U. S. Warships Struck in Pearl Harbor Attack. — Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec 8, 1941, p. 8.

Attacks Precede War Declaration; Tokyo Notifies Envoys After Surprise Raid Upon Pearl Harbor Base — Los Angeles Times, Dec 8, 1941. p. 1

Japanese Bombs Burst on U.S. Islands — The Washington Post, Dec 8, 1941, p. 10

Tokyo Bombers Strike Hard At Our Main Bases on Oahu; JAPANESE HIT HARD AT BASES ON OAHU AMERICAN NAVAL BASE ATTACKED PROM AIR — The United Press, New York Times, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

JAPANESE INVADE MALAYA: F.D.R. WAR MESSAGE TODAY; Guam Is Attacked; Nippon’s Seizure Of Wake Reported Enemy Aircraft Carrier Said To Be Sunk After Surprise Raid on Pearl Harbor Base — The Associated Press, The Atlanta Constitution, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

Hawaii Attacked Without Warning With Heavy Loss; Philippines Are Bombed; Japan Declares War on U.S.; Hawaii Bombed, Losses Heavy — The Washington Post, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

JAPS OPEN WAR ON U.S. WITH BOMBING OF HAWAII; Fleet Speeds Out to Battle Invader Tokyo Claims Battleship Sunk and Another Set Afire With Hundreds Killed on Island; Singapore Attacked and Thailand Force Landed — Los Angeles Times, Dec 8, 1941, p. 1.

THE HEADLINES NOW…

    • Pearl Harbor on the nation’s front pages: The attack on Pearl Harbor was front-page news the next day, and some newspapers even managed to put out special issues the same day of the attack…. – WaPo, 12-7-11
    • A date which will live in infamy: Dec. 7, 1941: The United States naval base at Pearl Harbor is attacked by Japanese planes launched from six aircraft carriers. Four US battleships are sunk, and four others damaged. Over 2400 Americans are killed, including 1177 on the battleship … – LAT, 12-6-11
    • Survivors, veterans mark somber Pearl Harbor remembrance: Some 120 aging survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor were among 5000 people who marked its 70th anniversary on Wednesday with a quiet, often emotional ceremony at water’s edge. With a light rain falling, … – Reuters, 12-7-11
    • Pearl Harbor remembrances: In ceremonies throughout the country, people gathered to remember a day that changed history on a December morning 70 years ago. In Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a US Marine firing detail prepares for a service commemorating the 70th anniversary of the attack … – WaPo, 12-8-11
    • Nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor: Survivors of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gathered Wednesday to remember the 2,400 people who lost their lives exactly 70 years ago.
      “Just as every day and unlike any other day, we stop and stand fast in memory of our heroes of Pearl Harbor and the Second World War,” Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander for Navy region Hawaii, told the gathering.
      U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus took note of the devastating legacy of the two-hour attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.
      “The history of December 7, 1941, is indelibly imprinted on the memory of every American who was alive that day. But it bears repeating on every anniversary, so that every subsequent generation will know what happened here today and never forget,” Mabus said…. – CNN International, 12-7-11
    • Nation Marks 70th Anniversary Of Pearl Harbor: In wheelchairs and on walkers, the old veterans came Wednesday to remember the day 70 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. But FDR’s “date that will live in infamy” is becoming a more distant memory. … – AP, 12-7-11
    • Snafu mars Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary ceremony: A snafu marred the critical moment of silence Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor ceremony observing the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack.
      Each year, the tradition calls for a moment of silence to start with the sounding of a ship’s whistle. The quiet is then broken when military aircraft fly over the USS Arizona Memorial in missing-man formation.
      The timing is carefully choreographed so that the moment of silence begins exactly at 7:55 a.m. — the moment Japanese planes began bombing the harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. But on Wednesday, emcee Leslie Wilcox was still speaking at 7:55 a.m., even as the Hawaii Air National Guard’s F-22’s roared overhead on schedule 42 seconds later.
      The moment of silence was held a few minutes late, just before 8 a.m. It was obvious to those who had attended the commemoration before that something was off, but some in the audience for the first time didn’t notice…. – CBS News, 12-8-11
    • Pearl Harbor remembered 70 years later: Ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor have been held across the United States. It was the surprise attack on the US navel base in Hawaii which brought America into World War II. Survivors gathered on the island to remember the fallen.Nearly 2,500 American service members died on December 7 1941…. – euronews, 12-7-11
    • Pearl Harbor Day: Survivors remember attack, pay respects on 70th anniversary: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 remains deeply imbedded in the American psyche. On the 70th anniversary, Michael Ruane looked back at how the nation reacted to that fateful event: For a time on Dec. 7, 1941, millions of Americans were … – WaPo, 12-8-11
    • Survivors remember Pearl Harbor: About 120 survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor observed a moment of silence to commemorate the Japanese attack and the thousands who lost their lives that day 70 years ago…. – WaPo, 12-8-11
    • Pearl Harbor Day: Nation promises survivors it will never forget: A grateful nation delivered a heartfelt message Wednesday morning to the dwindling number of survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack: Rest easy. We’ll take it from here. Allow us to repay the debt by carrying your burden. On the face of it…. – LAT, 12-7-11
    • Pearl Harbor Day: Survivors remember attack, pay respects on 70th anniversary: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 remains deeply imbedded in the American psyche. On the 70th anniversary, Michael Ruane looked back at how the nation reacted to that fateful event: For a time on Dec. 7, 1941, millions of Americans were … – WaPo, 12-7-11

“If December 7 is going to teach us anything, it should be that we must remain vigilant at all times, not just to avoid war, but vigilant among ourselves so that we would not use this as a justification to set aside our most honored document, the constitution.” — Sen. Daniel Inouye

  • Senator Inouye Recalls Pearl Harbor Attack’s ‘Black Puffs of Explosion’: Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, a witness to the Pearl Harbor attacks, spoke today on the Senate floor about the 70th anniversary of the day he thought the world was ending.
    The bombing, he said, “began a period of my life where I became an adult and I hope a good American.” He added, “It is something that I will never forget that changed my life forever.”
    Only 17, Inouye was getting ready for church on Sunday morning Dec. 7, 1941, in Hawaii. He was listening to music when the radio announcer interrupted the programming with screaming. Inouye and his father ran outside…. – ABC News, 12-7-11
  • Pearl Harbor Day: Celebrities Who Served In World War II (PHOTOS): When the bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor, Americans immediately went to work. In addition to a homefront that saw citizens plant victory gardens, buy war bonds and fill the factories, the military flooded with brave young heroes, ready to defend…. – Huff Post, 12-8-11
  • Pearl Harbor Still a Day for the Ages, but a Memory Almost Gone: For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies, sharing memories of a day they still remember in searing detail.
    But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31…. – NYT, 12-6-11
  • Remembering Pearl Harbor, 70 years later: Seventy years ago Dec. 7, the nation was shocked by the news from Pearl Harbor, a place many Americans had never heard of before. The battleship USS West Virginia is engulfed in flames after the surprise Japanese attack …Yet without declaring war, Japan had launched a massive air attack on the ill-prepared U.S. naval forces in Hawaii. The damage — 2,402 Americans killed, four battleships sunk, 188 aircraft destroyed — wouldn’t be known publicly for weeks.
    The 70th anniversary is being marked by hundreds of Remember Pearl Harbor events, new books, and Wednesday’s two-hour History Channel special, Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours After (8 p.m. ET)…. – USA Today, 12-6-11
  • ‘Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours After’: History’s splendid Pearl Harbor documentary shows FDR quickly set national tone: Network / Air Date: Wednesday at 8 p.m., History
    The 24 hours after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, were “the turning point of the 20th century,” declares the narrator of this History special.
    Even by standards of TV shows, that’s a bold claim. But “Pearl Harbor” spends the next two hours systemetically and effectively arguing that it’s true…. – NY Daily News, 12-6-11
  • Declassified Memo Hinted of 1941 Hawaii Attack: Three days before the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on Hawaii, a new and eerie reminder of FDR’s failure to act on a basket load of tips that war was near…. – U.S. News & World Report, 11-29-11
  • Remembering Pearl Harbor: The phrase lives on, and 70 years have not dimmed the meaning and memory of that day…. – NYT, 12-6-11
  • Nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor: Survivors of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor will remember the 2400 people who lost their lives 70 years ago Wednesday. The annual commemoration in Hawaii begins at 7:40 am (12:40 pm ET ) at the Pearl Harbor … – CNN International, 12-6-11
  • Preserving veterans’ stories on 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Globe & Mail, 12-7-11
  • Pearl Harbor attacked: A witness remembers, 70 years later: Around 8 am on Dec. 7, 1941, Army Private Francis Stueve sat down to breakfast with the rest of the 89th Field Artillery battalion, stationed at Pearl Harbor. “As quiet a day as you’ve ever seen,” Stueve remembers now. “Beautiful sunshine, nothing … – WaPo, 12-6-11
  • Pearl Harbor survivors are fading away: Ten years ago, as America prepared to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, The News-Sun met with three Navy men from Waukegan who were there on the date which will live in infamy: Ambrose Ferri, John Haffey and Jay Kough….
    Those men have joined the ranks of Pearl Harbor survivors who lived to see postwar America, and now have started to fade away. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there are only 3,000 Pearl Harbor veterans still among us nationwide…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 12-6-11
  • 70 years after attack on Pearl Harbor, Doolittle’s raid on Japan still garners interest: Almost 70 years after the United States struck Japan in a bold bombing raid that did little damage but lifted the spirits of a Pearl Harbor-weary nation, Thomas Griffin relishes the role he played that day as a navigator in one of Jimmy … – WaPo, 12-5-11
  • Pearl Harbour attacked 70 years ago – A soldier remembers: It was on this day (December 7th, 2011) in 1941 that Japan launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. At 07:55 local time the first wave of between 50 and 150 planes struck the naval base for 35 minutes dropping … – ABC Online (blog), 12-7-11
  • 70 Years Later: Using Historic Times Articles and Social Media to Remember Pearl Harbor: Overview | What happened on Dec. 7, 1941? Why is the attack on Pearl Harbor such an historically important event? In this lesson, students learn about the 1941 attack by reading an archival Times article from the day after, and then either create a series of Twitter posts that document the attack and resulting declaration of war, or write a “Historic Headlines”-style summary and analysis of the event and its repercussions — and their connection to today…. – NYT, 12-6-11

QUOTES

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Address to Congress Requesting a Declaration of War with Japan December 8, 1941

Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941

Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and 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 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 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

Statement by President Barack Obama on the 70th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Seventy years ago today, a bright Sunday morning was darkened by the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. Today, Michelle and I join the American people in honoring the memory of the more than 2,400 American patriots—military and civilian, men, women and children—who gave their lives in our first battle of the Second World War. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families for whom this day is deeply personal—the spouses, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters who have known seven decades without a loved one but who have kept their legacy alive for future generations.

We salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still. Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory. They are members of that Greatest Generation who overcame the Depression, crossed oceans and stormed the beaches to defeat fascism, and turned adversaries into our closest allies. When the guns fell silent, they came home, went to school on the G.I. Bill, and built the largest middle class in history and the strongest economy in the world. They remind us that no challenge is too great when Americans stand as one. All of us owe these men and women a profound debt of gratitude for the freedoms and standard of living we enjoy today.

On this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we also reaffirm our commitment to carrying on their work—to keeping the country we love strong, free and prosperous. And as today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end and we welcome home our 9/11 Generation, we resolve to always take care of our troops, veterans and military families as well as they’ve taken care of us. On this solemn anniversary, there can be no higher tribute to the Americans who served and sacrificed seventy years ago today.

HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION

  • Craig Shirley: Five myths about Pearl Harbor: President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” And that day, when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, has lived in infamy for 70 years. Yet even as the memory of the attack has lasted, so have the misperceptions surrounding it. On this anniversary, here are a few myths worth dispelling.

    1. The U.S. government had no knowledge of a potential Japanese attack before Dec. 7.
    Beyond the obvious signs of Japan’s increasing aggression — including its sinking of an American naval vessel in the Yangtze Riverand its signing of the Tripartite Pact with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany — various specific war warnings had been sent by Washington to military commanders in the Pacific for some days before Dec. 7.

    2. On Dec. 7, Japan attacked only Pearl Harbor.
    Though the attack on Pearl Harbor was the most crippling and caused the most American losses, Japanese forces also struck the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand and Midway that day.

    3. The U.S. military responded quickly and decisively.
    For months after Pearl Harbor, the United States suffered defeat after defeat in the Pacific theater.

    4. Japanese Americans were the only U.S. citizens rounded up after Pearl Harbor.
    Within 48 hours of the attack, more than 1,000people of Japanese, German and Italian descent, all considered “enemy aliens,” were detained by the FBI.

    5. The attack on Pearl Harbor convinced the public that the United States should enter World War II.
    The attack persuaded Americans to support entering part of the war, not all of it. Before Pearl Harbor, the United States was largely isolationist, and there was almost no call to get involved in another European war.

    WaPo, 12-2-11

  • Nigel Hamilton: Pearl Harbor — and Our Moral Identity as a Nation: As U.S. intelligence reported on the number of Japanese troop transports and warships gathering off the coast of Thailand and Malaya in the first days of December 1941, it became obvious to all but Republican ostriches that the Philippines would soon be targeted, and that the United States, unless it wished to become a vassal state, would be drawn into the war, whether it wished or not.
    On the night of December 6, 1941, discussing the latest intelligence reports with the President in his Oval study on the second floor of the White House, Harry Hopkins remarked sadly that it was a pity the U.S. could not pre-empt the Japanese attack on the Malay Barrier while the menacing Japanese invasion fleet was still off shore.
    “No, we can’t do that. We are a democracy and a peaceful people,” President Roosevelt said. “But we have a good record.”… – Huff Post, 12-5-11
  • Pearl Harbor anniversary: It still lives in infamy: Gilbert Sandler describes how, after Pearl Harbor, Baltimoreans worked and played, worried and sacrificed under the shadow of war
    Today, marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan and the official entry of the United States into World War II. These stories are excerpted from the book, “Home Front Baltimore” (Johns Hopkins University Press)…. – Baltmore Sun, 12-7-11

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Publications in honor of the 70th anniversary include the following:

  • Stephen Gillon, Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War (Basic, 2011).
  • Craig Shirley, December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World (Thomas Nelson, 2011).
  • Stanley Weintraub, Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941 (DaCapo, 2011).
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