Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pearl Harbor Speech Analysis Figure 1. Franklin D. Roosevelt Addresses Congress. 1941. photograph.

"A date that will live in infamy," ( are the most remembered words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's address the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. These were far from the only words he spoke; however, that impacted America's feelings toward the attack. In fact, the language Roosevelt used made the purpose of the speech successful in gaining support and faith in the American government from the citizens and, ultimately, receiving an official declaration of war against the Empire of Japan from Congress.
Although the speech was directly presented to Congress, as seen in the photo in figure 1, Roosevelt was not only addressing the government. He began the speech by informing the government officials and the American people some description of the event. He does not go graphically in depth of the attack to grab his viewers attention; but, instead, focuses on the immorality of the Japaneses' behavior. Roosevelt describes Japan's actions as deliberately sseeking to "deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace," which he used to recieve the support of the public. To show that America was not at fault, he mentioned in the first sentence that, "America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. By useing the words "suddenly" and "deliberately" he caused his audience to feel victimized by an unprovoked attack. Roosevelt did not want to frighten the Americans by dwelling on the tragedy of the event, which is why he only says, "that very many lives have been lost," instead of reporting that over 2,000 were dead Following the his brief discussion on what the Pacific Fleet lost, he dramatically lists other areas Japan attacked on the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack and the following morning to remind his audience that Japan was acting with surprise force.
In an effort to tell the facts, while still trying not to frighten the people, Franklin D. Roosevelt assured the American public that they would be defended. He wanted the people to feel strong and not worry over whether or not the country would win against Japan. By assuring that, "the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory," Roosevelt gave Americans the necessary hope they needed to proceed with the fighting that inevitably had to follow. He ensured he had his country's support by reinforcing his previous statement about the American people's "righteous might" by adding, "with confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph." This makes Americans feel strong, as Roosevelt had intended. To further his grasp on his country's support he stresses, " I believe that I interpret the will of 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." Each one of these statements causes an uproar of applause in the audience; because, these words bind the audience to one another and force support and confidence of and in the American government.

After his final words of confidence, he touches back to the original theme of the speech, in his plea for a declaration of war. He askes Congress to allow the declaration, since the attack on December 7, 1941, was "unprovoked and dastardly." Using such strong, negative words to describe the Pearl Harbor attack, once again helps Roosevelt succeed in his purpose to gain support from the American people and to be granted a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.

Works Cited

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. "Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation." 8 December 1941.

Works Consulted

"American Rhetoric Top 100 Speeches." American Rhetoric. American Rhetoric, 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
"Attack at Pearl Harbor, 1941." Eye Witness to History.Com. Ibis Communications, Inc.,1997. Web. 3 Oct. 2010.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Address Congress. 1941. photograph.