[August 30, 2014]At 12:30 p.m. on December 8, 1941, U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt stood before Congress and gave what
is now known as his "Day of Infamy" or "Pearl Harbor" speech.
President Roosevelt opened his address to Congress, "Mr. Vice President, Mr.
Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
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."
At the end of the speech, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war against
Japan. His request was granted that same day.
Just a few days prior to the beginning of World War II that dragged Great
Britain into war another British leader was making a speech as well. That
leader was Winston Churchill who gave a speech entitled, "A Hush Over
Europe" - 8 August 1939. That speech was broadcast to the United States from
London. Speaking to the members of the House of Commons before the Summer
recess, Winston Churchill made one final attempt to encourage the United
States to wake up and be aware of what was happening in Europe that was
leading to war. On the day of this speech in less than four weeks the
outbreak of war exploded in Europe with Germany and Italy invasions.
Winston Churchill said in provocative terms, "There is a hush over all
Europe, nay, over all the world, broken only by the dull thud of Japanese
bombs falling on Chinese cities, on Chinese Universities or near British and
American ships. But then, China is a long way off, so why worry? The Chinese
are fighting for what the founders of the American Constitution in their
stately language called: "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And
they seem to be fighting very well. Many good judges think they are going to
win. Anyhow, let's wish them luck! Let's give them a wave of encouragement -
as your President did last week, when he gave notice about ending the
commercial treaty. After all, the suffering Chinese are fighting our battle,
the battle of democracy. They are defending the soil, the good earth, that
has been theirs since the dawn of time against cruel and unprovoked
aggression. Give them a cheer across the ocean - no one knows whose turn it
may be next. If this habit of military dictatorships' breaking into other
people's lands with bomb and shell and bullet, stealing the property and
killing the proprietors, spreads too widely, we may none of us be able to
think of summer holidays for quite a while." Of course when Japan attacked
Pearl Harbor in the United States at Hawaii on December 7, 1941 the giant
American influence woke up.
Another leader of America, John F. Kennedy, faced another challenge when the
world woke up again learning of the threat to freedom everywhere when the
Soviet Union had build attack missiles with nuclear precision just 90 miles
from the American coast in Cuba. Here is a partial piece of his address on
the Cuban Crisis October 22, 1962:
"Good evening, my fellow citizens. This Government, as promised, has
maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the
island of Cuba. Within the past week unmistakable evidence has established
the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on
that imprisoned island. The purposes of these bases can be none other than
to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere."
"Upon receiving the first preliminary hard information of this nature last
Tuesday morning (October 16) at 9:00 A.M., I directed that our surveillance
be stepped up. And having now confirmed and completed our evaluation of the
evidence and our decision on a course of action, this Government feels
obliged to report this new crisis to You in fullest detail."
"Acting, therefore, in the defense of our own security and of the
entire Western Hemisphere, and under the authority entrusted to me
by the Constitution as endorsed by the resolution of the Congress, I
have directed that the following initial steps be taken immediately:
First: To halt this offensive build-up, a strict quarantine on all
offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being
initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation
or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be
turned back: This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other
types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however,
denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in
their Berlin blockade of 1948."
"Second: I have directed the continued and increased close
surveillance of Cuba and its military build-up. The Foreign
Ministers of the Organization of American States in their communiqu6
of October 3 rejected secrecy on such matters in this Hemisphere.
Should these offensive military preparations continue, thus
increasing the threat to the Hemisphere, further action will be
justified. I have directed the Armed Forces to prepare for any
eventualities; and I trust that in the interests of both the Cuban
people and the Soviet technicians at the sites, the hazards to all
concerned of continuing this threat will be recognized."
"Third: It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear
missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western
Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States,
requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."
"Fourth: As a necessary military precaution I have reinforced our
base at Guantanamo, evacuated today the dependents of our personnel
there, and ordered additional military units to be on a standby
"Fifth: We are calling tonight for an immediate meeting of the Organ
of Consultation, under the Organization of American States, to
consider this threat to hemispheric security and to invoke articles
six and eight of the Rio Treaty in support of all necessary action.
The United Nations Charter allows for regional security
arrangements-and the nations of this Hemisphere decided long ago
against the military presence of outside powers. Our other allies
around the world have also been alerted."
"Sixth: Under the Charter of the United Nations, we are asking
tonight that an emergency meeting of the Security Council be
convoked without delay to take action against this latest Soviet
threat to world peace. Our resolution will call for the prompt
dismantling and withdrawal of all offensive weapons in Cuba, under
the supervision of United Nations observers, before the quarantine
can be lifted."
We see leaders in world crisis like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston
Churchill and John F. Kennedy we have a pattern of leadership that
people can look up to. We have a sense of purpose, planning, resolve
and strength in what lies ahead for us. But the world cannot stay
safe forever; dictators and terrorists are always trying to wage
Finally, we are in a situation where people are being murdered all
over the world by an Islamic terrorist jihadist group known as ISIS
or ISIL, even making threats against America. But our current Leader
has said, "We don't have a strategy for ISIL yet." Even though the
President has been briefed for over a year about what is happening
with ISIL. That was on Thursday; by Friday the President was out
fundraising again. So much for being prepared! If some in America
are longing for leadership, there is a reason why.