On December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a somber President Franklin Delano Roosevelt strapped his steel braces onto his legs and walked into the U.S. House chamber, leaning on his son Jimmy’s arm. There he addressed a joint session of Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Japan:
Yesterday, December 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. . . . The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. . . . As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we 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 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 very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
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 unbounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.
Thank you to the Greatest Generation for the Freedoms we enjoy today!