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My Fellow Americans, it is nearly five months since we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. For the two years prior to that attack this country had been gearing itself up to a high level of production of munitions. And yet our war efforts had done little to dislocate the normal lives of most of us.

Since then we have dispatched strong forces of our Army and Navy, several hundred thousands of them, to bases and battlefronts thousands of miles from home. We have stepped up our war production on a scale that is testing our industrial power, our engineering genius, and our economic structure to the utmost. We have had no illusions about the fact that this is a tough job-and a long one.

American warships are now in combat in the North and South Atlantic, in the Arctic, in the Mediterranean, in the Indian Ocean, and in the North and South Pacific. American troops have taken stations in South America, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East, the continent of Australia, and many islands of the Pacific. American war planes, manned by Americans, are flying in actual combat over all the continents and all the oceans.
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Winston Churchill: Be Ye Men of Valour – May 19, 1940

First Broadcast as Prime Minister

I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our empire, of our allies, and, above all, of the cause of Freedom. A tremendous battle is raging in France and Flanders. The Germans, by a remarkable combination of air bombing and heavily armored tanks, have broken through the French defenses north of the Maginot Line, and strong columns of their armored vehicles are ravaging the open country, which for the first day or two was without defenders. They have penetrated deeply and spread alarm and confusion in their track. Behind them there are now appearing infantry in lorries, and behind them, again, the large masses are moving forward. The re-groupment of the French armies to make head against, and also to strike at, this intruding wedge has been proceeding for several days, largely assisted by the magnificent efforts of the Royal Air Force.

We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the presence of these armored vehicles in unexpected places behind our lines. If they are behind our Front, the French are also at many points fighting actively behind theirs. Both sides are therefore in an extremely dangerous position. And if the French Army, and our own Army, are well handled, as I believe they will be; if the French retain that genius for recovery and counter-attack for which they have so long been famous; and if the British Army shows the dogged endurance and solid fighting power of which there have been so many examples in the past — then a sudden transformation of the scene might spring into being.

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Patton’s speech to the Third Army Somewhere in England, June 5th, 1944.

“Be seated.” Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle.

You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, every one of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he’s not, he’s a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men.

Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen. All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call “chicken shit drilling.” That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a fuck for a man who’s not always on his toes.

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Winston Churchill: We Shall Fight on the Beaches, June 4, 1940

The position of the B. E.F had now become critical As a result of a most skillfully conducted retreat and German errors, the bulk of the British Forces reached the Dunkirk bridgehead. The peril facing the British nation was now suddenly and universally perceived. On May 26, “Operation Dynamo “–the evacuation from Dunkirk began. The seas remained absolutely calm. The Royal Air Force–bitterly maligned at the time by the Army–fought vehemently to deny the enemy the total air supremacy which would have wrecked the operation. At the outset, it was hoped that 45,000 men might be evacuated; in the event, over 338,000 Allied troops reached England, including 26,000 French soldiers. On June 4, Churchill reported to the House of Commons, seeking to check the mood of national euphoria and relief at the unexpected deliverance, and to make a clear appeal to the United States.

From the moment that the French defenses at Sedan and on the Meuse were broken at the end of the second week of May, only a rapid retreat to Amiens and the south could have saved the British and French Armies who had entered Belgium at the appeal of the Belgian King; but this strategic fact was not immediately realized. The French High Command hoped they would be able to close the gap, and the Armies of the north were under their orders. Moreover, a retirement of this kind would have involved almost certainly the destruction of the fine Belgian Army of over 20 divisions and the abandonment of the whole of Belgium. Therefore, when the force and scope of the German penetration were realized and when a new French Generalissimo, General Weygand, assumed command in place of General Gamelin, an effort was made by the French and British Armies in Belgium to keep on holding the right hand of the Belgians and to give their own right hand to a newly created French Army which was to have advanced across the Somme in great strength to grasp it.

However, the German eruption swept like a sharp scythe around the right and rear of the Armies of the north. Eight or nine armored divisions, each of about four hundred armored vehicles of different kinds, but carefully assorted to be complementary and divisible into small self-contained units, cut off all communications between us and the main French Armies. It severed our own communications for food and ammunition, which ran first to Amiens and afterwards through Abbeville, and it shore its way up the coast to Boulogne and Calais, and almost to Dunkirk. Behind this armored and mechanized onslaught came a number of German divisions in lorries, and behind them again there plodded comparatively slowly the dull brute mass of the ordinary German Army and German people, always so ready to be led to the trampling down in other lands of liberties and comforts which they have never known in their own.

I have said this armored scythe-stroke almost reached Dunkirk-almost but not quite. Boulogne and Calais were the scenes of desperate fighting. The Guards defended Boulogne for a while and were then withdrawn by orders from this country. The Rifle Brigade, the 60th Rifles, and the Queen Victoria’s Rifles, with a battalion of British tanks and 1,000 Frenchmen, in all about four thousand strong, defended Calais to the last. The British Brigadier was given an hour to surrender. He spurned the offer, and four days of intense street fighting passed before silence reigned over Calais, which marked the end of a memorable resistance. Only 30 unwounded survivors were brought off by the Navy, and we do not know the fate of their comrades. Their sacrifice, however, was not in vain. At least two armored divisions, which otherwise would have been turned against the British Expeditionary Force, had to be sent to overcome them. They have added another page to the glories of the light divisions, and the time gained enabled the Graveline water lines to be flooded and to be held by the French troops.

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The thoughts and hopes of all America—indeed of all the civilized world—are centered tonight on the battleship Missouri. There on that small piece of American soil anchored in Tokyo Harbor the Japanese have just officially laid down their arms. They have signed terms of unconditional surrender.

Four years ago, the thoughts and fears of the whole civilized world were centered on another piece of American soil—Pearl Harbor. The mighty threat to civilization which began there is now laid at rest. It was a long road to Tokyo—and a bloody one.

We shall not forget Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese militarists will not forget the U.S.S. Missouri.

The evil done by the Japanese war lords can never be repaired or forgotten. But their power to destroy and kill has been taken from them. Their armies and what is left of their Navy are now impotent.

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My Fellow Americans:

Over a year and a half ago I said this to the Congress: “The militarists in Berlin, and Rome and Tokyo started this war, but the massed angered forces of common humanity will finish it.”

Today that prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled. The massed, angered forces of common humanity are on the march. They are going forward — on the Russian front, in the vast Pacific area, and into Europe — converging upon their ultimate objectives: Berlin and Tokyo.

I think the first crack in the Axis has come. The criminal, corrupt Fascist regime in Italy is going to pieces.

The pirate philosophy of the Fascists and the Nazis cannot stand adversity. The military superiority of the United Nations — on sea and land, and in the air — has been applied in the right place and at the right time.

Hitler refused to send sufficient help to save Mussolini. In fact, Hitler’s troops in Sicily stole the Italians’ motor equipment, leaving Italian soldiers so stranded that they had no choice but to surrender. Once again the Germans betrayed their Italian allies, as they had done time and time again on the Russian front and in the long retreat from Egypt, through Libya and Tripoli, to the final surrender in Tunisia.

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This dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association is unique. It is the first one at which I have made a speech in all these eight years. It differs from the press conferences that you and I hold twice a week, for you cannot ask me any questions tonight; and everything that I have to say is word for word “on the record.”

For eight years you and I have been helping each other. I have been trying to keep you informed of the news of Washington, of the Nation, and of the world, from the point of view of the Presidency. You, more than you realize, have been giving me a great deal of information about what the people of this country are thinking and saying.

In our press conferences, as at this dinner tonight, we include reporters representing papers and news agencies of many other lands. To most of them it is a matter of constant amazement that press conferences such as ours can exist in any Nation in the world.

That is especially true in those lands where freedoms do not exist- where the purposes of our democracy and the characteristics of our country and of our people have been seriously distorted.

Such misunderstandings are not new. I remember that, a quarter of a century ago, in the early days of the first World War, the German Government received solemn assurances from their representatives in the United States that the people of America were disunited; that they cared more for peace at any price than for the preservation of ideals and freedom; that there would even be riots and revolutions in the United States if this Nation ever asserted its own interests.

Let not dictators of Europe or Asia doubt our unanimity now. Before the present war broke out on September 1, 1939, I was more worried about the future than many people—indeed, than most people. The record shows that I was not worried enough.

That, however, is water over the dam. Do not let us waste time in reviewing the past, or fixing or dodging the blame for it. History cannot be rewritten by wishful thinking. We, the American people, are writing new history today.

The big news story of this week is this: The world has been told that we, as a united Nation, realize the danger that confronts us—and that to meet that danger our democracy has gone into action.

We know that although Prussian autocracy was bad enough in the first war, Nazism is far worse in this.

Nazi forces are not seeking mere modifications in colonial maps or in minor European boundaries. They openly seek the destruction of all elective systems of government on every continent—including our own; they seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers who have seized power by force.

Yes, these men and their hypnotized followers call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order. For order among Nations presupposes something enduring—some system of justice under which individuals, over a long period of time, are willing to live. Humanity will never permanently accept a system imposed by conquest and based on slavery.

These modern tyrants find it necessary to. their plans to eliminate all democracies- eliminate them one by one. The Nations of Europe, and indeed we ourselves, did not appreciate that purpose. We do now. The process of the elimination of the European Nations proceeded according to plan through 1939 and well into 1940, until the schedule was shot to pieces by the unbeatable defenders of Britain.

The enemies of democracy were wrong in their calculations for a very simple reason. They were wrong because they believed that democracy could not adjust itself to the terrible reality of a world at war.

They believed that democracy, because of its profound respect for the rights of man, would never arm itself to fight.

They believed that democracy, because of its will to live at peace with its neighbors, could not mobilize its energies even in its own defense.

They know now that democracy can still remain democracy, and speak, and reach conclusions, and arm itself adequately for defense.

From the bureaus of propaganda of the Axis powers came the confident prophecy that the conquest of our country would be”an inside job”—a job accomplished not by overpowering invasion from without, but by disrupting confusion and disunion and moral disintegration from within.

Those who believed that knew little of our history. America is not a country which can be confounded by the appeasers, the defeatists, the backstairs manufacturers of panic. It is a country that talks out its problems in the open, where any man can hear them.

We have just now engaged in a great debate. It was not limited to the halls of Congress. It was argued in every newspaper, on every wave length, over every cracker barrel in all the land; and it was finally settled and decided by the American people themselves.

Yes, the decisions of our democracy may be slowly arrived at. But when that decision is made, it is proclaimed not with the voice of any one man but with the voice of one hundred and thirty millions. It is binding on us all. And the world is no longer left in doubt.

This decision is the end of any attempts at appeasement in our land; the end of urging us to get along with dictators; the end of compromise with tyranny and the forces of oppression.
And the urgency is now.

We believe firmly that when our production output is in full swing, the democracies of the world will be able to prove that dictatorships cannot win.

But, now, now, the time element is of supreme importance. Every plane, every other instrument of war, old and new, every instrument that we can spare now, we will send overseas because that is the common sense of strategy.

The great task of this day, the deep duty that rests upon each and every one of us is to move products from the assembly lines of our factories to the battle lines of democracy—Now!

We can have speed, we can have effectiveness, if we maintain our existing unity. We do not have and never will have the false unity of a people browbeaten by threats, misled by propaganda. Ours is a unity that is possible only among free men and women who recognize the truth and face reality with intelligence and courage.

Today, at last—today at long last—ours is not a partial effort. It is a total effort and that is the only way to guarantee ultimate safety.

Beginning a year ago, we started the erection of hundreds of plants; we started the training of millions of men.

Then, at the moment that the aid-to-democracies bill was passed, this week, we were ready to recommend the seven-billion-dollar appropriation on the basis of capacity production as now planned.

The articles themselves cover the whole range of munitions of war and of the facilities for transporting them across the seas.

The aid-to-democracies bill was agreed on by both houses of the Congress last Tuesday afternoon. I signed it one half hour later. Five minutes after that I approved a list of articles for immediate shipment; and today—Saturday night—many of them are on their way. On Wednesday, I recommended an appropriation for new material to the extent of seven billion dollars; and the Congress is making patriotic speed in making the money available.

Here in Washington, we are thinking in terms of speed and speed now. And I hope that that watchword—”Speed, and speed now”- will find its way into every home in the Nation.

We shall have to make sacrifices- every one of us. The final extent of those sacrifices will depend on the speed with which we act Now!

I must tell you tonight in plain language what this undertaking means to you- to you in your daily life.

Whether you are in the armed services; whether you are a steel worker or a stevedore; a machinist or a housewife; a farmer or a banker; a storekeeper or a manufacturer- to all of you it will mean sacrifice in behalf of your country and your liberties. Yes, you will feel the impact of this gigantic effort in your daily lives. You will feel it in a way that will cause, to you, many inconveniences.

You will have to be content with lower profits, lower profits from business because obviously your taxes will be higher.

You will have to work longer at your bench, or your plow, or your machine, or your desk.

Let me make it clear that the Nation is calling for the sacrifice of some privileges, not for the sacrifice of fundamental rights. And most of us will do it willingly. That kind of sacrifice is for the common national protection and welfare; for our defense against the most ruthless brutality in all history; for the ultimate victory of a way of life now so violently menaced.

A halfhearted effort on our part will lead to failure. This is no part-time job. The concepts of “business as usual,” of “normalcy,” must be forgotten until the task is finished. Yes, it’s an all-out effort—and nothing short of an all-out effort will win.

Therefore, we are dedicated, from here on, to a constantly increasing tempo of production—a production greater than we now know or have ever known before- a production that does not stop and should not pause.

Tonight, I am appealing to the heart and to the mind of every man and every woman within our borders who loves liberty. I ask you to consider the needs of our Nation and this hour, to put aside all personal differences until the victory is won.

The light of democracy must be kept burning. To the perpetuation of this light, each of us must do his own share. The single effort of one individual may seem very small. But there are 130 million individuals over here. And there are many more millions in Britain and elsewhere bravely shielding the great flame of democracy from the blackout of barbarism. It is not enough for us merely to trim the wick, or polish the glass. The time has come when we must provide the fuel in ever-increasing amounts to keep that flame alight.

There will be no divisions of party or section or race or nationality or religion. There is not one among us who does not have a stake in the outcome of the effort in which we are now engaged.

A few weeks ago I spoke of four freedoms—freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, freedom from want, freedom from fear. They are the ultimate stake. They may not be immediately attainable throughout the world but humanity does move toward those glorious ideals through democratic processes. And if we fail- if democracy is superseded by slavery- then those four freedoms, or even the mention of them, will become forbidden things. Centuries will pass before they can be revived.

By winning now, we strengthen the meaning of those freedoms, we increase the stature of mankind, we establish the dignity of human life.

I have often thought that there is a vast difference between the ‘word “loyalty” and the word “obedience.” Obedience can be obtained and enforced in a dictatorship by the use of threat or extortion or blackmail or it can be obtained by a failure on the part of government to tell the truth to its citizens.

Loyalty is different. It springs from the mind that is given the facts, that retains ancient ideals and proceeds without coercion to give support to its own government.

That is true in England and in Greece and in China and in the United States, today. And in many other countries millions of men and women are praying for the return of a day when they can give that kind of loyalty.

Loyalty cannot be bought. Dollars alone will not win this war. Let us not delude ourselves as to that.

Today, nearly a million and a half American citizens are hard at work in our armed forces. The spirit—the determination of these men of our Army and Navy are worthy of the highest traditions of our country. No better men ever served under Washington or John Paul Jones or Grant or Lee or Pershing. That is a boast, I admit—but it is not an idle one.

Upon the national will to sacrifice and to work depends the output of our industry and our agriculture.

Upon that will depends the survival of the vital bridge across the ocean—the bridge of ships that carry the arms and the food for those who are fighting the good fight.

Upon that will depends our ability to aid other Nations which may determine to offer resistance.

Upon that will may depend practical assistance to people now living in Nations that have been overrun, should they find the opportunity to strike back in an effort to regain their liberties and may that day come soon!

This will of the American people will not be frustrated, either by threats from powerful enemies abroad or by small, selfish groups or individuals at home.

The determination of America must not and will not be obstructed by war profiteering.

It must not be obstructed by unnecessary strikes of workers, by shortsighted management, or by the third danger—deliberate sabotage.

For, unless we win there will be no freedom for either management or labor.

Wise labor leaders and wise business managers will realize how necessary it is to their own existence to make common sacrifice for this great common cause.

There is no longer the slightest question or doubt that the American people recognize the extreme seriousness of the present situation. That is why they have demanded, and got, a policy of unqualified, immediate, all-out aid for Britain, for Greece, for China, and for all the Governments in exile whose homelands are temporarily occupied by the aggressors.

And from now on that aid will be increased—and yet again increased—until total victory has been won.

The British are stronger than ever in the magnificent morale that has enabled them to endure all the dark days and the shattered nights of the past ten months. They have the full support and help of Canada, of the other Dominions, of the rest of their Empire, and the full aid and support of non-British people throughout the world who still think in terms of the great freedoms.

The British people are braced for invasion whenever such attempt may come—tomorrow—next week—next month.

In this historic crisis, Britain is blessed with a brilliant and great leader in Winston Churchill. But, knowing him, no one knows better than Mr. Churchill himself that it is not alone his stirring words and valiant deeds that give the British their superb morale. The essence of that morale is in the masses of plain people who are completely clear in their minds about the one essential fact- that they would rather die as free men than live as slaves.

These plain people- civilians as well as soldiers and sailors and airmen,—women and girls as well as men and boys- they are fighting in the front line of civilization at this moment, and they are holding that line with a fortitude that will forever be the pride and the inspiration of all free men on every continent, on every isle of the sea.

The British people and their Grecian allies need ships. From America, they will get ships.
They need planes. From America, they will get planes.

From America they need food. From America, they will get food.

They need tanks and guns and ammunition and supplies of all kinds. From America, they will get tanks and guns and ammunition and supplies of all kinds.

China likewise expresses the magnificent will of millions of plain people to resist the dismemberment of their historic Nation. China, through the Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek, asks our help. America has said that China shall have our help.

And so our country is going to be what our people have proclaimed it must be—the arsenal of democracy.
Our country is going to play its full part.

And when—no, I didn’t say if, I said when—dictatorships disintegrate- and pray God that will be sooner than any of us now dares to hope—then our country must continue to play its great part in the period of world reconstruction for the good of humanity.

We believe that the rallying cry of the dictators, their boasting about a master-race, will prove to be pure stuff and nonsense. There never has been, there isn’t now, and there never will be, any race of people on the earth fit to serve as masters over their fellow men.

The world has no use for any Nation which, because of size or because of military might, asserts the right to goosestep to world power over the bodies of other Nations or other races. We believe that any nationality, no matter how small, has the inherent right to its own nationhood.

We believe that the men and women of such Nations, no matter what size, can, through the processes of peace, serve themselves and serve the world by protecting the common man’s security; improve the standards of healthful living; provide markets for manufacture and for agriculture. Through that kind of peaceful service every Nation can increase its happiness, banish the terrors of war, and abandon man’s inhumanity to man.

Never, in all our history, have Americans faced a job so well worth while. May it be said of us in the days to come that our children and our children’s children rise up and call us blessed.

Address at the Annual Dinner of White House Correspondents’ Association – March 15, 1941

Citation: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database)

Source: The American Presidency Project

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