WWII Memorial Inscription Omits 'So Help Us God' from Roosevelt Speech?
By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Forwarded email claims the words 'so help us God' were purposely omitted or removed from the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: May 2004
Status: False (see details below)
Email contributed by D. Norris, June 3, 2004:
Subject: WW 2 Memorial.
My friends, I received this from another friend and I thought it was worth passing along. I remember FDR saying this too. It has become a sorry state of affairs for the political correct crowd to try to rewrite history. This is just another example of their shenanigans and devilish work. Mack.
This is from an Admiral I worked for off and on during my 32 years of Navy life, Admiral Jack Buffington he is now teaching engineering at the University Of Arkansas.
What are we going to have to do to stop these people from doing things like this?
From Dr. Jack,
Today I went to visit the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. I got an unexpected history lesson. Since I'm a baby boomer, I was one of the youngest in the crowd. Most were the age of my parents, veterans of "the greatest war" with their families. It was a beautiful day, and people were smiling and happy to be there. Hundreds of us milled around the memorial, reading the inspiring words of Ike and Truman that are engraved there.
On the Pacific side of the memorial, a group of us gathered to read the words President Roosevelt used to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941-- a date which will live in infamy-- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked." One woman read the words aloud: "With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph." But as she read, she was suddenly angry. "Wait a minute," she said. "They left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt said 'so help us God."
"You're probably right," her husband said. "We're not supposed to say things like that now."
"I know I'm right," she insisted. "I remember the speech." The two shook their heads sadly and walked away.
Listening to their conversation, I thought to myself, "Well, it has been 50 years. She's probably forgotten."
But she was right.
I went home and pulled out the book my book club is reading. It's "Flags of Our Fathers" by James Bradley. It's all about Iwo Jima. I haven't gotten too far in the book. It's tough to read because it's a graphic description of the battles in the Pacific.
But right there it was on page 58. Roosevelt's speech to the nation. It ends "so help us God."
The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war. But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are engraved on their hearts.
Send this around to your friends. People need to know before everyone forgets.
Analysis: Poppycock. Though it is true that Franklin D. Roosevelt's 485-word "day of infamy" speech contained the phrase "so help us God," it did not end with those words.
Moreover, the inscription on the World War II Memorial wall comprises two brief excerpts from Roosevelt's speech, not the entire text, and neither of those excerpts closes with "so help us God."
It's nonsensical to say the phrase was "left out" of the inscription.
Any confusion on the matter derives from the following section of the forwarded text, which is grossly misleading, perhaps even intentionally so:
One woman read the words aloud: "With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph." But as she read, she was suddenly angry. "Wait a minute," she said. "They left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt said 'so help us God.'"
But the excerpt the woman supposedly read aloud "With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph..." isn't part of the inscription either! Why should we expect to find "so help us God"?
Exhibit A: Here are the assembled quotes from the "day of infamy" speech exactly as they are inscribed on the wall of the World War II Memorial (see photo):
DECEMBER 7, 1941, A DATE
WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY...
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.
Exhibit B: Here is the full transcript of Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech with inscribed portions highlighted in yellow, and the phrase "so help us God" highlighted in red:
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 Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or 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. 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. This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday 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.
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.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
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Sources and further reading:
National World War II Memorial
Official home page
Inside the WW II Memorial
Washington Post, 28 May 2004
1941 Declaration of War ('Day of Infamy' Speech)
World War II Memorial Opens in D.C.
Pawtucket Times, 31 May 2004
Inspiring Words Grace World War II Memorial Walls
Armed Forces Press Service, 28 May 2004
Last updated: 11/06/11