The following is from President Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to the Congress of the United States, December 8, 1941.
. . . Yesterday, December 7th, 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.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu…
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
Weintraub will be joining us this evening, December 7, in the “America’s Presidents” gallery on the second floor of the Donald W. Reynolds Center at 6:00 p.m. He will give a short talk in front of NPG’s portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed by a book-signing.
Q. Seventy years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, do you see Americans as still appreciating the gravity and resonance of December 7, 1941?
A. No. I think too many catastrophic events have intervened—such as 9/11.
Q. Why did you choose that particular image of FDR for the cover of Pearl Harbor Christmas? Can you tell us a little about that picture?
A. He appears to be signing the declaration of war against Japan the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The black armband and black tie are in mourning for his mother who had died at age eighty-eight in September 1941.
Q. Are you pleased with the efforts—monumental, written, cinematic, and otherwise—that Americans have made to pay tribute to the men and women who fought and won World War II?
A. Not really. A proliferation of memorials is not as significant as the recognition that peace is harder to make than war.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt/Douglas Granville Chandor, 1945/Oil on canvas/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution