“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars,” promised Franklin D. Roosevelt as he campaigned for a third term, Oct. 30, 1940.
FDR addressed Congress on appropriations for national defense, July 10, 1940: “I said … keep this nation from being drawn into the war. … We will not send our men to take part in European wars.”
FDR told the Young Democratic Clubs of America, April 20, 1940: “We are keeping out of the wars that are going on in Europe and in Asia. … Our opponents are seeking to frighten the country by telling people that the present Administration is deliberately … drifting into war. You know better than that.”
FDR told the New York Herald Tribune Forum, Oct. 26, 1939: “The United States of America, as I have said before, is neutral and does not intend to get involved in war.”
FDR stated in a Fireside Chat, Sept. 3, 1939: “We seek to keep war from our own firesides by keeping war from coming to the Americas. … This nation will remain a neutral nation. … I have said … many times … that I hate war. … I hope the United States will keep out of this war. … I give you … reassurance that every effort of your government will be directed toward that end.”
FDR addressed a press conference in Hyde Park, New York, July 22, 1939: “On the neutrality thing, I have here forty-five newspaper editorials … showing how widespread is the general approval … to make the United States neutral and to help to avert war.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in a radio address to the Third Annual Women’s Conference, Oct. 13, 1933: “It is the policy of this government to avoid being drawn into wars between other nations.”
On Aug. 31, 1935, FDR gave a statement on neutrality legislation: “As a nation, we are overwhelmingly against engaging in war. … The policy of the government is … avoidance of any entanglements which would lead us into conflict.”
FDR stated on Feb. 29, 1936: “A definite step was taken toward enabling this country to maintain its neutrality and avoid being drawn into wars involving other nations.”
FDR gave his version of “fake” news to the New York Herald Tribune Forum, Oct. 26, 1939: “We have heard orators … beating their breasts … against sending the boys of American mothers to fight on the battlefields of Europe. That I do not hesitate to label as one of the worst fakes in current history. It is a deliberate setting up of an imaginary bogey man. The simple truth is that no person … in the national administration … has ever suggested … the remotest possibility of sending the boys of American mothers to fight on the battlefields of Europe. That is why I label that argument a shameless and dishonest fake.”
FDR remarked to representatives of national civic organizations, Washington, D.C., Aug. 2, 1940: “I made a statement which was promptly twisted out of all semblance to what I said. … They promptly tried to misquote … that we would promptly send two or three million American boys to the line, which was, of course, merely a political effort on their part to misrepresent.”
At a campaign event in Philadelphia, Oct. 23, 1940, FDR stated: “I give … to the people of this country this most solemn assurance: There is no secret treaty, no secret obligation, no secret commitment, no secret understanding in any shape or form, direct or indirect, with any other government, or any other nation in any part of the world, to involve this nation in any war.”
FDR stated in Buffalo, New York, Nov. 2, 1940: “A few days ago … a person very high in Republican circles … I am telling you this story to illustrate these vicious misrepresentations. … This leader said: ‘I want to tell you something off the record. … The president of the United States has … orders … that the day after election the whole of the United States Fleet, will proceed further westward. … And that, you know, would be an act of war against Japan.’ Well, the fact is that … that it is a falsehood. … I can cite to you many, many other examples of rumors … all of them untrue, but every one of them tending to make people believe that this country is going to war. Your president says this country is not going to war.”
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FDR addressed the students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dec. 5, 1938: “You undergraduates who see me for the first time have read your newspapers and heard on the air that I am, at the very least, an ogre – a consorter with Communists, a destroyer of the rich, a breaker of our ancient traditions. … You have heard for six years that I was about to plunge the nation into war; that you and your little brothers would be sent to the bloody fields of battle in Europe. (Laughter)”
While FDR was busy campaigning, most of the world entered the war, either as Allies against or Axis in support of Hitler’s National Socialist Workers Party, Imperial Japan or Fascist Italy:
United Kingdom (1939)
South Africa (1939)
Saudi Arabia (1939)
New Zealand (1939)
Hong Kong (1941)
Franklin D. Roosevelt told the Teamsters Union Convention, September 11, 1940: “I stand, with my party … on the platform … adopted in Chicago. … It said: ‘We will not participate in foreign wars, and we will not send our Army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in case of attack.’”
On Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. Three hundred fifty Japanese aircraft sank five American battleships and three destroyers. Four hundred U.S. aircraft were destroyed. Over 4,000 were killed or wounded.
Subsequent investigations revealed warnings may have been disregarded, such as Four-Star Admiral H.E. Kimmel’s statement in a 1958 radio interview hosted by Notre Dame Law School Dean Clarence Manion: “General Short and I were not given the information available in Washington and were not informed of the impending attack because it was feared that action in Hawaii might deter the Japanese from making the attack. Our president had repeatedly assured the American people that the United States would not enter the war unless we were attacked. The Japanese attack on the fleet would put the United States in the war with the full support of the American public.”
Similar accusations are made, and also denied, of the Nov. 14, 1940, attack in England, where, supposedly, Winston Churchill did not warn the city of Coventry of an impending air raid as by doing so would have tipped off the Nazis that their top-secret messages encrypted by the Enigma cipher machine could be decoded by British Ultra Secret cryptanalysts.
Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a Joint Session of Congress: “December 7, 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.”
President Roosevelt added: “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. … We will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.”
FDR continued: “Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.”
Historians reasoned that if America had postponed entering the war, all the other Allies would have been defeated and America would be left alone fighting the enemy. After four years, and an estimated 15 million battle deaths and 45 million civilian deaths, the Axis Powers were defeated.
The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2004 to honor those Americans who gave their lives defending the nation. Of the over 500 words inscribed on it, the designers chose not to include FDR’s phrase “So help us God” or any other mention of faith.
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Chris Long of the Ohio Christian Alliance initiated the effort to add Franklin D. Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer to the Memorial. The D-Day Landing Prayer Acts (S 1044) was introduced in the House by Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson and in the Senate by Ohio Senator Rob Portman. It gained bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2014.
FDR mobilized the nation with many speeches, which are recorded in the book “The Faith of FDR – From President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Public Papers 1933-1945”:
“The whole world is divided between … pagan brutality and the Christian ideal. We choose human freedom which is the Christian ideal.” – FDR, May 27, 1941, address announcing unlimited national emergency
“Preservation of these rights is vitally important now, not only to us who enjoy them– but to the whole future of Christian civilization.” – FDR, Sept. 1, 1941, Labor Day
“The world is too small … for both Hitler and God. … Nazis have now announced their plan for enforcing their … pagan religion all over the world … by which the Holy Bible and the Cross of Mercy would be displaced by Mein Kampf and the swastika.” – FDR, Jan. 6, 1942, State of Union
“Those forces hate Democracy and Christianity. … They oppose Democracy because it is Christian. They oppose Christianity because it preaches Democracy.” – FDR, Nov. 1, 1940, Brooklyn, New York
“I saw Sevastopol and Yalta! And I know that there is not room enough on earth for both German militarism and Christian decency.” – FDR, March 1, 1945, on Yalta Conference
“This great war effort … shall not be imperiled by the handful of noisy traitors – betrayers of America, betrayers of Christianity itself.” – FDR, April 28, 1942, Fireside Chat
“We guard against the forces of anti-Christian aggression, which may attack us from without, and the forces of ignorance and fear which may corrupt us from within.” – FDR, Oct. 28, 1940, Madison Square Garden, New York
“I knew that someday Russia would return to religion for the simple reason that four or five thousand years of recorded history have proven that mankind has always believed in God in spite of the many abortive attempts to exile God.” – FDR, Feb. 10, 1940, American Youth Congress
“The American people … have watched with sympathetic interest the effort of the Jews to renew in Palestine the ties of their ancient homeland and to reestablish Jewish culture in the place where for centuries it flourished. … It gives me great pleasure to send my warmest personal greetings.” – FDR, Feb. 6, 1937, United Palestine Appeal, Stephen Wise
“An ordering of society which relegates religion … to the background can find no place within it for the ideals of the Prince of Peace. The United States rejects such an ordering, and retains its ancient faith.” – FDR, Jan. 4, 1939
“I doubt if there is any problem in the world … that would not find happy solution if approached in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount … in conformity with the teaching of Him Who is the Way, the Light and the Truth.” – FDR, Oct. 1, 1938, New Orleans Eucharistic Congress
“We will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way … because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation … knowing … the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace.” – FDR, Dec. 24, 1944
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