“We are builders.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The historian in me couldn’t let today pass without honoring the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Seventy-five years ago, on December 7, 1941, the United States was rocked by tragedy in the territory of Hawaii in an act of terror. That morning people awoke to airplanes attacking, black clouds, and fire. Battleships. Men and women. Airplanes. All of these were lost just as our sense of security was.

That day, Canada, our friend, declared war on Japan.

The next day, the United States declared war on Japan thus marking our entrance into World War Two.

When Roosevelt addressed the people after Congress approved the declaration of war, he spoke of how America tried so hard to stay peaceful in a world igniting in conflict. “I can say with utmost confidence that no Americans today or a thousand years hence, need feel anything but pride in our patience and in our efforts through all the years toward achieving a peace in the Pacific which would be fair and honorable to every nation, large or small.”

To visit Pearl Harbor is surreal. It’s hard to imagine the picturesque landscape in a state of chaos, but there, under the surface, just as sure as the oil still rises from the sunken USS Arizona, is the feeling. The feeling of shock, awe, and eventually, the desire to never forget the lost lives or the desire to defend the country we love.

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Near the end of Roosevelt’s speech, he continued, “The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle. When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers—we are builders.”

In a world where the news is filled with war, hate crimes, murder, and other evil acts, this inspirational message rings true today, seventy-five years later.

We need everyone to do their part to build a positive, peaceful world. Perhaps, in time, we can remember today not as a day of infamy, but a day to remember we are builders.

Full transcript of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat on December 9, 1941

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