• Three U.S. President’s Who Stepped Up When the Nation and the Times Required It …

    Surge Summary: A look back at three Presidents — Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Rossevelt —  who rose to the occasion when their country demanded they do so.

    by Larry Usoff

    Once upon a time in America…

    It was November 19, 1863.  A tall, gaunt figure of a man stood on a platform in a little town in Pennsylvania.  He spoke for a rather short time…after all, how long does it take to say 272 words?  Those words, and every word a gem, have gone down in American history as one of the most fitting tributes to the fighting men of that terrible war.  He said,

    Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    For those of us that learned American history, this probably stands head and shoulders above much of what came before or after.

    It was April 30, 1789, and the man who COULD have been king, was not.  He had been a gentleman farmer who probably raised tobacco, among other things on his plantation in Virginia.  He was a slave-owner, although historical records seem to indicate that he didn’t really like the concept.  He stood tall as he addressed the congregation, having recently defeated the-then mightiest army in the world, the British Army.  This was George Washington, soldier, statesman, and now President.  The First President of a brand-new country, the United States of America.

    He was not, as you read the opening statement, seeking any high political office, but when called, he served.  Here’s the beginning of his inaugural address:

    Fellow Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years.

    On December 8, 1941, in a combined meeting of the United States Congress, the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was helped to his feet and stood at the dais.  The day was Monday, a usually-normal working day for most Americans…but this was to be a most unusual day.  As the microphones were adjusted for him, and the newsreel cameras began rolling, he began his speech:

    Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives: 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. Indeed, one hour after Japanese 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 Malaya. 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, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

    And, so it was…once upon a time in America.

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge. 

    Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

    Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired. Articulate. Opinionated. Patriotic. Conservative. Cultured enough so that I can be taken almost anywhere. Makes no excuses for what I say or do, but takes responsibility for them. Duty. Honor. Country. E-mail me at: amafrog@att.net


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