Pearl Harbor - DECLARATION of WAR

Like other newspapers across the country, the San Francisco Chronicle reports the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in its December 8, 1941 issue.


Winston Churchill had sensed "the gathering storm" of a coming war, even when others disagreed.  After the Munich pact, when Stalin and Hitler agreed to support each other, he was more than alarmed. 

Urging both America and his own country to arm (these are his speaking notes from a 1938 BBC broadcast), he had originally believed a tough policy against the aggressor nations of World War I would prevent future conflicts.  But when that policy did not materialize, and Hitler rearmed his country, Churchill thought the only way to resist future aggression was to be strong militarily. 

When Britain was dragged into the war, Churchill vowed his country would "never surrender."  When London was incessantly bombed by Germany, Winston urged the United States to notice and act.  The U.K. desperately needed help.

In one of his famous speeches ("This Was Their Finest Hour"), the new Prime Minister expressed concern about the world’s ability to withstand Adolf Hitler:

If we can stand up to him [Hitler] all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age...

On December 8, FDR addressed America. Churchill, of course, already knew the United States would now join the war.

In his most-quoted speech, containing a significant but little-known change, President Roosevelt said:

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 word that made his speech famous - "infamy" - was not the President’s original choice. Follow the link to see his first draft. His initial words were:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in world history...

Undoubtedly recognizing the speech (this link is the audio version) as the most important he would ever make, FDR substituted a memorable phrase for an ordinary one. And as the war dragged on, people continued to support him and the war effort.

Harry Hopkins, FDR’s advisor, also suggested a change to the President’s draft speech. This document reflects that change which became the next-to-last sentence of the final version: "With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph— so help us God."

This war was different. The United States had been attacked. And ... throughout her history, America’s citizens have always banded together against outside threats. Yamamoto was right when he said:

I fear we wake a sleeping giant.

But he was wrong when he and other military leaders assured the Japanese people their home islands were safe from attack.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jan 12, 2016

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"DECLARATION of WAR" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2001. Jan 17, 2020.
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