OUR COUNTY

Remembering history, and a word oft-quoted

D. GARY DAVIS
Posted 12/4/18

Infamy. Upon checking the definition of this word online, I was not only made aware of how words are currently explained in a digital world, but also how short some people’s memories really have …

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OUR COUNTY

Remembering history, and a word oft-quoted

Posted

Infamy. Upon checking the definition of this word online, I was not only made aware of how words are currently explained in a digital world, but also how short some people’s memories really have become.

One online dictionary listed the definition as “the state of being well-known for some bad quality or deed,” or “an evil or wicked act." The online version of Merriam-Webster that I found had listed as possible definitions “an evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking or brutal,” and “an extreme and publicly known criminal and evil act."

But neither of these dictionaries even listed one of the most well-known quotes spoken in the 20th century, by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he said the following words the day after the surprise attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii 77 years ago this Friday.

President Franklin Roosevelt called the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor a “date which will live in infamy,” in a famous address to the nation delivered 77 years ago this weekend. As the nation reflects on the anniversary of the surprise attack that led America to join World War II, here is the transcript of FDR's speech, which he delivered in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1941, just one day after the assault:

———

 “Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

"Yesterday, Dec. 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.

"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 afterJapanese 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.

"Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaysia.

"Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

"Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

"Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

"Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

"And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

"Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

"As commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

"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.

"I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that 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.

"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.

"I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.”

———

I am by no means a history scholar, but I do believe that the definition for a word that helped to define our history ought to be explained and used in a correct context.

Bradley County is also honored to have a citizen who not only knows this definition, but he was also serving in our military forces at Pearl Harbor during the attack. As one of the last surviving members of The Greatest Generation, I salute you, George Allen, and thank you sir for your, and every veteran’s service over the centuries.

We are greatest when we work together as a nation, as a state, as a county and as a city. I pray that our descendants will never again experience the evils of war, but I also know that if evil comes, we must, and will, rise against it.

And as FDR so eloquently said, “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.”

This trait is just one of many that keeps Bradley County, Tennessee at its best!

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