Franklin Delano Roosevelt has always been ranked in the top three of US presidents, along with Washington and Lincoln (Wikipedia).
On December 9, 1941 Roosevelt spoke to the American people through one of his radio “Fireside Chats.” Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor two days before and probable war with Germany was on the horizon (Germany declared war two days later). He took on responsibility for leading the US war effort, and sought to bring together the nation. Below are some excerpts relevant to our leadership during the current virus crisis:
…Powerful and resourceful gangsters have banded together to make war upon the whole human race. Their challenge has now been flung at the United States of America. … The Congress and the people of the United States have accepted that challenge.
HE IS SAYING THAT WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER TO RESIST AND VANQUISH A FORMIDABLE FORCE.
…I have prepared the full record of our past relations with Japan, and it will be submitted to the Congress. …
ROOSEVELT IS NOT HIDING OR MINIMIZING.
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….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. …
HE ACKNOWLEDGES/FEELS THE LOSS OF LIFE.
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…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.
HE IS GOING TO BE FORTHRIGHT AND ASKS THAT CITIZENS BE DISTRUSTFUL OF RUMOR (NOWADAYS FACEBOOK/TWITTER).
…Now a word about the recent past and the future. A year and a half has elapsed since the fall of France, when the whole world first realized the mechanized might which the Axis nations had been building up for so many years. America has used that year and a half to great advantage. Knowing that the attack might reach us in all too short a time, we immediately began greatly to increase our industrial strength and our capacity to meet the demands of modern warfare…Assembly lines are now in operation. Others are being rushed to completion. A steady stream of tanks and planes, of guns and ships and shells and equipment—that is what these eighteen months have given us.
AMERICA HAS BEEN PREPARING, JUST IN CASE. NOT DILLY-DALLYING. *AND HE DOESN’T SAY THAT THE FALL OF FRANCE (OR POLAND) WAS ALL CHURCHILL’S FAULT. HE IS JUST GETTING ON WITH THE TASK AHEAD.
…It will not only be a long war, it will be a hard war. That is the basis on which we now lay all our plans. That is the yardstick by which we measure what we shall need and demand; money, materials, doubled and quadrupled production—ever-increasing. …
STRAIGHTFORWARD LOOKING AT THE HARD ROAD AHEAD (AND IT WON’T JUST “MIRACULOUSLY DISAPPEAR” VERY SOON).
I have been working today on the subject of production. Your Government has decided on two broad policies. The first is to speed up all existing production by working on a seven day week basis in every war industry, including the production of essential raw materials. The second policy, now being put into form, is to rush additions to the capacity of production by building more new plants, by adding to old plants, and by using the many smaller plants for war needs….
THERE WAS NO DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT THEN, BUT ROOSEVELT ACTED. AND ROOSEVELT DOES NOT LEAVE IT UP TO THE VARIOUS GENERALS/ADMIRALS TO FIGURE OUT INDIVIDUALLY HOW TO GET THE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES FOR THE FIGHT. HE KNOWS THAT THIS IS WHAT A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS FOR.
Over the hard road of the past months, we have at times met obstacles and difficulties, divisions and disputes, indifference and callousness. That is now all past—and, I am sure, forgotten.
BRINGING ALL OF AMERICA TOGETHER AS WE MUST BE IN A CRISIS.
The fact is that the country now has an organization in Washington built around men and women who are recognized experts in their own fields. I think the country knows that the people who are actually responsible in each and every one of these many fields are pulling together with a teamwork that has never before been excelled.
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.
…It is not a sacrifice to do without many things to which we are accustomed if the national defense calls for doing without it.
MUCH MORE SACRIFICE THAN STAYING HOME OR WEARING A FACE MASK.
…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.
JOINING WITH ALLIES IS A MUST—NOT REMOVING THE USA FROM WORLD ORGANIZATIONS.
…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.
ALMOST 80 YEARS AGO ROOSEVELT TELLS US THAT WHAT HAPPENS ANYWHERE CAN HAPPEN HERE AND WE MUST BE PREPARED.
For the full text of the speech see: