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It's a bird! It's a plane! It's hundreds of Japanese aircraft dropping in for a sneak-attack on America's military bases on Oahu!
Sounds unbelievable, right? But that's exactly what happened on December 7th, 1941, while U.S. military personnel at Pearl Harbor were just finishing up their Sunday breakfast.
Without warning, warm, mostly-sunny Oahu found itself under attack. By the time the ambuscade was over, 2,400 Americans were dead, 188 U.S. planes were destroyed, and sixteen really big U.S. ships were damaged or destroyed.
Guess who was quite displeased about this turn of events? That's right: then-POTUS Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his presidential campaign, he'd promised to avoid sending Americans to war, since a lot of the country was still smarting from being involved in World War I. He also felt like there was enough going on at home, what with Great Depressions and bajillions of new government programs and whatnot.
Basically, the attack on Pearl Harbor was not only a huge and tragic shock, but it also threw a ginormous wrench in all of FDR's big POTUS-y plans.
This speech is FDR's reaction to Japan's attack, and it's everything a person could hope for and more in a post-unprovoked-ambush speech: it's shocked, it's angry, it's articulate, and it's got a nice vengeance-y aftertaste that really brings out its distinctly American bouquet.
It's the perfect pre-war aperitif, and FDR recommends serving it with no chill.
FDR should've stuck to his guns and kept America out of World War II; politicians always make campaign promises they don't keep.
FDR was right to bring the U.S. into World War II even though he'd said he wouldn't; being flexible in the face of adversity is a good quality for a leader to have.
Japan throws a deadly surprise party for the American military personnel at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt is not amused. The day after said party, he delivers a twenty-six-sentence-long thank-you speech, promising to return the favor in kind…but with less "surprise" and more "deadly."
Everything about this speech screams shock, disbelief, anger, and vengeance.
Which is pretty impressive, considering none of those words are used even once.
But we don't need 'em to get the gist of this bad boy. In twenty-six short sentences, President Roosevelt manages to accomplish four fairly major things:
As far as Presidential speeches go, there are shorter ones, and there are longer ones. But there are few that do so much so well in such a brief amount of time.
And who doesn't love a good multitasker?