Seriously though folks, Merry Christmas!
I was up late sliding across the ice in our neighborhood to go get cigarettes at the one gas station Downtown still open on Christmas morning. While dodging ruts and trying not to slam into my neighbors cars, since the City is incompetent when it comes to following the Snow Removal Process, I was listening to the radio.
On WOWO 1190 they were playing a prerecorded Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Special, and they used a quote that I had pondered using for a Christmas tribute to our men and women overseas, with some political banter of course included, was being read over the air waves. What a coincidence I thought, then I was like, " Oh great, if their doing it that means other people are using the same quotes.", and sure enough there are a lot of reference to the two Presidential messages of Christmas Eve 1941 all across the blogosphere and some traditional media outlets.
Even Pulitzer Prize Commentator, George F. Will has even thrown down some pen to paper, or finger to binary coded keys, on the social side of the historical event as well, back on Christmas 2005.
So I still think that actual words while loaded for bear with political background and pandering themselves are too important for Americans not to hear or read completely in context and then also commit to our collective memory once again. I will give the quotes in context, then use the particular segments for what I need to say this Christmas. Although, since 67 years have past since this historical occasion, here is a really quick history review (pdf), with my commentary in green, from the Government Archives, and other sources for those who didn't have as awesome of an 8th grade US History teacher like Mr. David Dew @ Northwood Middle School or fell asleep in High School History:
In 1940 Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister, in July he requested and help in replacing 11 destroyers to the German Navy over a 10 day period. At this pointe the US was strictly neutral in all foreign wars, as was the custom of our Founding Fathers. Roosevelt exchanged 50 of our destroyers for 99 year leases on British military bases in the Caribbean and Newfoundland. In the 1940 Presidential Election Campaign Roosevelt made the promise, "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."Okay well let's start with the obvious, politicians lie, especially in Presidential politics. So much for America's historical strict neutrality, and promising that "your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.", when all along he knew he was just biding his time for when the "opportunity presented its self" to go kick Hitler's ass. He exchanged 50 of our destroyers when they had only lost eleven, that is four times over what they needed to replace. And exchange for what, leases on military bases, that America didn't need to have access to in the first place. Here we begin to see the development of American influence across the world flex the Country's military muscle rather than diplomatic mindset. We are slowly becoming the worlds police, at this pointe, the transition is evident; but I digress, back to the history lesson, which becomes definitive with the signing of the Atlantic Charter and the lend lease agreement.
In January 1941, following up on his campaign pledge and the prime minister's appeal for arms, Roosevelt proposed to Congress a new military aid bill to "lend-lease or otherwise dispose of arms" and other supplies needed by any country whose security was vital to the defense of the United States. This Lend-Lease Act, proposed by FDR in January 1941 and passed by Congress in March, went a long way toward solving the concerns of both Great Britain's desperate need for supplies and America's desire to appear neutral.So not only did we "exchange" three times over the amount of Destroyers that they needed, we decided to invest in our own "national security" by "disposing" or rerouting our military supplies into other countries who were deemed vital to our own defense. How does this not sound like what we did back in the eighties with Iran Contra and by supporting the Taliban to oust Russia from Afghanistan, or sitting idly by while Saddam Hussein did the whole Oil For Food shares scandal by buying votes of the other UN officials with stocks and credit vouchers?
In August 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill met for the first of nine face-to-face conferences during the war, was devoted to an agreement on war aims and a vision for the future. The document created The Atlantic Charter, an agreement on war aims between the two nations. The charter set forth the concepts of self-determination, end to colonialism, freedom of the seas, and the improvement of living and working conditions for all people. Which was similar to Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points after World War One which everyone pretty much ignored. Also worthy to note is that this day was the last execution done in the Tower of London.
It would be interesting to also note, that while this Charter was the foundational document to build the United Nations years later, it was never signed by either man; so the Charter, is not Constitutionally binding on the United States Government, in any way shape or form. The United States by this charter has officially taken ten more steps closer to war by irritation of the Axis of Evil nations. Another note of interest is that the Germans didn't start gassing people until December of 1941 the same time America entered World War Two. Does that leave one to wonder if the horrible extermination of the Jews and others was in fact a response to America ending its neutral state in the War or the excuse Germany was looking for to start the Holocaust?
When is America's Citizens going to learn that if we fuck with another country eventually they fuck right back. Eastern culture does not forget injustices quite as easily as America likes to, but it may take twenty years (which is also our Country's foreign policy cycle and political memory span), for the injustice to return full circle, and for our "chickens to come back home to roost!", to quote Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, retired Pastor of Trinity UCC in Chicago:
A government sponsored religiosity makes you suffer from amnesia:
- We (America) have got to change the way we have being doing things as an arrogant, racist, military superpower....
- We bombed Hiroshima and we bombed Nagasaki, we have nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we have never batted an eye.
- We have supported state terrorism...and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards....
- We have paranoid group of patriots in power that now in the interest of Homeland Stupidity, that cannot see what we were doing is the same thing Al Queda was doing under a different coloured flag, calling on the name of "a different" God, to sanction and approve our murder and mayhem....
The sixth of December 1941, the day that will live in infamy, The United States was ramshackled by Japanese suicide bombers at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This event brought America into the war directly. Congress declared War against Japan two days later, three days after that Germany and Italy were stupid enough to mutually declare War on the United States. Which made Winston Churchill noticeably jolly as he came over to visit FDR. On Christmas Eve 1941, while spending weeks at the White House, and being a wretch of a guest at that (ref: George Will article above and WWII Daily), in what became known as the First Washington Conference, that ultimately placed first priority on the defeat of Germany and Italy rather than Japan. Roosevelt and Churchill delivered Christmas greetings to the nation and the world from the South Portico of the White House during the lighting of the National Community Christmas Tree.Text of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 Christmas Eve Speech (with modified format for space):
Fellow workers for freedom: There are many men and women in America- sincere and faithful men and women—who are asking themselves this Christmas:Then followed by Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill's comments "I spend this festival far from my country and far from my family, yet I cannot say I feel far from home," as his mother was an American, continued with:
These are natural—inevitable—questions in every part of the world which is resisting the evil thing. And even as we ask these questions, we know the answer. There is another preparation demanded of this Nation beyond and beside the preparation of weapons and materials of war. There is demanded also of us the preparation of our hearts; the arming of our hearts. And when we make ready our hearts for the labor and the suffering and the ultimate victory which lie ahead, then we observe Christmas Day—with all of its memories and all of its meanings—as we should.
- How can we light our trees? How can we give our gifts?
- How can we meet and worship with love and with uplifted spirit and heart in a world at war, a world of fighting and suffering and death?
- How can we pause, even for a day, even for Christmas Day, in our urgent labor of arming a decent humanity against the enemies which beset it?
- How can we put the world aside, as men and women put the world aside in peaceful years, to rejoice in the birth of Christ?
National Day Of Prayer And Penance
Looking into the days to come, I have set aside a day of prayer, and in that Proclamation I have said: "The year 1941 has brought upon our Nation a war of aggression by powers dominated by arrogant rulers whose selfish purpose is to destroy free institutions. They would thereby take from the freedom-loving peoples of the earth the hard-won liberties gained over many centuries. "The new year of 1942 calls for the courage and the resolution of old and young to help to win a world struggle in order that we may preserve all we hold dear."We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage. But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us. "Therefore, I... do hereby appoint the first day of the year 1942 as a day of prayer, of asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, of asking God's help in days to come. "We need His guidance that this people may be humble in spirit but strong in the conviction of the right; steadfast to endure sacrifice, and brave to achieve a victory of liberty and peace."
Our Allies, Our Sons and Brothers, Our Friends, Our Fallen Heroes
Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies-more than any other day or any other symbol. Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love and in God's care for us and all men everywhere. It is in that spirit, and with particular thoughtfulness of those, our sons and brothers, who serve in our armed forces on land and sea, near and far- those who serve for us and endure for us that we light our Christmas candles now across the continent from one coast to the other on this Christmas Eve.
We have joined with many other Nations and peoples in a very great cause. Millions of them have been engaged in the task of defending good with their life-blood for months and for years. One of their great leaders stands beside me. He and his people in many parts of the world are having their Christmas trees with their little children around them, just as we do here. He and his people have pointed the way in courage and in sacrifice for the sake of little children everywhere. And so I am asking my associate, my old and good friend, to say a word to the people of America, old and young, tonight Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain.
"Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied the right to live in a free and decent world."There is always more that can be said and this is far but from complete on the current commentary and cautions that history brings us as a people. Please know that I am grateful that we as a Country overturned Hitler and Hussein from their power and tyrannical grip over the people. However the similarities in the build up between the four wars is very prevalent and one day must be answered by We The People as to what type of society we want to leave for our children.
The questions regarding the Industrial Military Complex, and whether or not our Leaders should have done some of the things we have allowed, in the name of freedom or security, I just hope we as a nation have those conversations sooner than later, until the world knows peace.
The season of sharing gifts and giving of ones self for your fellow man, is the perfect time to start and maybe one day solve these issues and angst, that violate our common bonds and brotherhood, for the sake of a babe in Bethlehem, or Afghanistan and Iraq, or Indiana, Nebraska, Maine, and Nevada.
My prayer for the men and women serving us away from their family and friends this Holiday is that, they may find comfort in Roosevelt's and Churchill's words as we all pray for them with these same thoughts, before we enjoy our feasts and open our presents. May they be comforted in knowing we have remembered them today. That we have lighted the first candle, for peace; and the second, for brotherhood; and the third, for freedom; the next is burning, for equality; the last one is lit, for liberty; because we know, thanks to them, these flames will unite and never die. Thank you for your sacrifice and may you come home to us soon and safely!
FDR speech on Christmas Eve 1941
Source: THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS PROJECT
by John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters @ UC Santa Barbara
Hat/tip: The Asstute Bloggers from 24 December 2006
F6 Recommends You Read
One Christmas In Washington
by David Bercuson and Holger Herwig
available via AMAZON for $20 Hardcover
F6 has and always will hold the men and women of this Country's Uniformed Services in the highest esteem possible and will at all times give them the honor and respect above and beyond that which they inheritable deserve from each citizen.