Thursday, July 4, 2013

A July 4th message in the face of war

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech on July 4, 1941 facing the prospect of war with Germany. The speech bluntly challenged his audience, according to Jeff Porro in the Washington Post.

The speech came at a time when American public opinion was still decidedly isolationist, despite the fact that Nazi armies had occupied Western Europe and were advancing rapidly in Russia, while the Japanese were on the march in Asia.

So instead of warmly invoking the past, he bluntly made the case for taking on the Axis:

"It is, indeed, a fallacy, based on no logic at all, for any American to suggest that the rule of force can defeat human freedom in all the other parts of the world and permit it to survive in the United States alone... It is simple -- I could almost say simple-minded--for us Americans to wave the flag, to reassert our belief in the cause of freedom and to let it go at that... I tell the American people solemnly that the United States will never survive as a happy and fertile oasis of liberty surrounded by a cruel desert of dictatorship.

And so it is that when we repeat the great pledge to our country and to our flag, it must be our deep conviction that we pledge as well our work, our will and, if it be necessary, our very lives."

This July 4th we do not face the menace that FDR, and the nation, faced in1941.  However, there are pressing issues at home and abroad that will shape the way we move into the future. Today we need to think about the freedoms we take for granted in this country and remind ourselves of the sacrifices that made them possible.

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