Broadcast over a Nationwide and Worldwide Radio Hook-up
On the 210th Anniversary of George Washington’s Birthday – February 23, 1942 @ 10:00 PM, EWT
Franklin D. Roosevelt
MY FELLOW AMERICANS:
Washington’s Birthday is a most appropriate occasion for us to talk with each other about things as they are today and things as we know they shall be in the future. For eight years, General Washington and his Continental Army were faced continually with formidable odds and recurring defeats. Supplies and equipment were lacking. In a sense, every winter was a Valley Forge. Throughout the thirteen states there existed fifth columnists — and selfish men, jealous men, fearful men, who proclaimed that Washington’s cause was hopeless, and that he should ask for a negotiated peace.
Washington’s conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since — a model of moral stamina. He held to his course, as it had been charted in the Declaration of Independence. He and the brave men who served with him knew that no man’s life or fortune was secure without freedom and free institutions.
The present great struggle has taught us increasingly that freedom of person and security of property anywhere in the world depend upon the security of the rights and obligations of liberty and justice everywhere in the world.
This war is a new kind of war. It is different from all other wars of the past, not only in its methods and weapons but also in its geography. It is warfare in terms of every continent, every island, every sea, every air-lane in the world.
“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Tom Paine wrote those words on a drumhead, by the light of a campfire. That was when Washington’s little army of ragged, rugged men was retreating across New Jersey, having tasted (nothing) naught but defeat.
And General Washington ordered that these great words written by Tom Paine be read to the men of every regiment in the Continental Army, and this was the assurance given to the first American armed forces:
“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the sacrifice, the more glorious the triumph.”
So spoke Americans in the year 1776.
So speak Americans today!