Infamy: Great Speeches of World War II
Today is the anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The following day, President Roosevelt gave one of the great speeches of all time. Here is my list of the greatest speeches of World War II. (See videos below.)
- Day of Infamy — Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, December 8, 1941
- Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat — Sir Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940
- Finest Hour — Sir Winston Churchill, June 18, 1940
- Japanese Surrender Ceremony — Gen. Douglas MacArthur, September 2, 1945
- The Guns Are Silent — Gen. Douglass MacArthur, September 2, 1945
- The Boys of Pointe du Hoc — Pres. Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984
- Tear Down This Wall — Pres. Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987
What would you add to this list?
Day of Infamy — Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, December 8, 1941
With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.
Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat — Sir Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940
I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized …
Finest Hour — Sir Winston Churchill, June 8, 1940 (conclusion only)
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, 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 made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
Japanese Surrender Ceremony — Gen. Douglas MacArthur, September 2, 1945
Note: Many of my generation owe our lives to Gen. MacArthur. He brought our fathers home alive. During the next 5 years, he would prove to be the greatest emperor Japan ever had.
It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past — a world founded upon faith and understanding — a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish — for freedom, tolerance and justice. … Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.
Link to full text of Gen. MacArthur’s remarks here.
The Guns Are Silent — Gen. Douglas MacArthur, September 2, 1945
Immediately after the surrender ceremony, Gen. MacArthur addressed the American public via radio. We could find no video link but you can link to audio of The Guns Are Silent here.
As I look back on the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that He has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory.
The Boys of Pointe du Hoc — Pres. Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984
Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; …
Tear Down This Wall — Pres. Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
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