Friday, December 6, 2013

Eleanor Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor

[*Yes, this is a repost from a previous year*]

 



Eleanor Roosevelt had a career on radio that began in the 1920s and expanded while Franklin Roosevelt was president. She had commercial sponsors but gave the money she earned at this time to charity, such as the American Friends Service Committee.

Speaking in a personal, conversational style, with a high pitched voice and clear, upperclass East Coast diction, ER delivered listeners for her sponsors and proved that she was worth large sums to advertisers. She was especially interested in the participation of women in civic life and issues of education and youth. Between 1933 and 1945 Eleanor Roosevelt’s White House broadcasts addressed the challenges that depression and war posed as well as lighter topics and commentary. After 1945 ER continued her radio broadcasts with a focus on human rights, the Cold War, and world peace.


Beginning in October 1941 ER gave 26 Sunday evening broadcasts sponsored by the
Pan-American Coffee Bureau (eight Latin American coffee growing nations), and earned
a total of $28,000. Through these broadcasts she helped to ready the American people
for war. On the fateful Sunday, December 7, she changed her prepared remarks to rally
her listeners behind the administration as the country entered the war.  (source)

For the last year I had been saving a YouTube video of  Eleanor Roosevelt's radio address about Pearl Harbor, only to find this week that it has been removed from the internet, and I can't find it anywhere. However, the transcript of her December 7 radio address still exists.  From the FDR Library, here's an excerpt of the original draft:






  • Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. FDR Library.
    Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. FDR Library.

















  • Eleanor Roosevelt also wrote a regular column called "My Day" and on December 8, 1941 she wrote - in part:

    My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


    DECEMBER 8, 1941

    WASHINGTON, Sunday—I was going out in the hall to say goodbye to our cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Adams, and their children, after luncheon, and, as I stepped out of my room, I knew something had happened. All the secretaries were there, two telephones were in use, the senior military aides were on their way with messages. I said nothing because the words I heard over the telephone were quite sufficient to tell me that, finally, the blow had fallen, and we had been attacked.

    Attacked in the Philippines, in Hawaii, and on the ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii. Our people had been killed not suspecting there was an enemy, who attacked in the usual ruthless way which Hitler has prepared us to suspect.

    Because our nation has lived up to the rules of civilization, it will probably take us a few days to catch up with our enemy, but no one in this country will doubt the ultimate outcome. None of us can help but regret the choice which Japan has made, but having made it, she has taken on a coalition of enemies she must underestimate; unless she believes we have sadly deteriorated since our first ships sailed into her harbor.
    The clouds of uncertainty and anxiety have been hanging over us for a long time. Now we know where we are. The work for those who are at home seems to be obvious. First, to do our own job, whatever it is, as well as we can possibly do it. Second, to add to it everything we can do in the way of civilian defense. Now, at last, every community must go to work to build up protections from attack.

    We must build up the best possible community services, so that all of our people may feel secure because they know we are standing together and that whatever problems have to be met, will be met by the community and not one lone individual. There is no weakness and insecurity when once this is understood....

    The rest is here.

    Within two hours, six battleships had been sunk, another 112 vessels sunk or damaged, and 164 aircraft destroyed. Only chance saved three US aircraft carriers, usually stationed at Pearl Harbor but assigned elsewhere on the day.

    The attacks killed fewer than 100 Japanese but more than 2,400 Americans died - 1,000 of those were on the battleship Arizona which was destroyed at her mooring. Another 1,178 US citizens were injured.

    The next day, President Roosevelt called the attack on Pearl Harbor "a day that will live in infamy" and America declared war on Japan ending its policy of isolationism. ...

    That excerpt is part of a column I wrote in 2010: Pearl Harbour: "By 9:55 it was all over. .." and there is included a timeline of the events on that terrible day, plus a first person account.



    Lest We Forget.

    2 comments:

    Muthu Pearl said...

    nice quote of Eleanor Roosevelt . Thanks for sharing this.

    Diane Fairben said...

    good column! Lots of history here!