On the morning of December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes struck Pearl Harbor, the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The attack nearly decimated U.S. Naval base located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, prompting our country to enter World War II and join the Allies in defeating the global threat of the fascist powers led by Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7 a Dzday that will live in
November 9, 2016 was another day that will live in infamy. Instead of entrusting the America’s highest office to Hillary Clinton, a woman who has accumulated a lifetime of experience in service to her country, that day voters chose as their next president a fascist, uninformed, ill-tempered, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, profane, self-possessed and self-professed billionaire businessman who has never held any type of elected office whatsoever.
Clinton actually won the majority of the popular vote by more than 300,000 votes, but the Electoral College determines the winner, as Al Gore reminds us. But that’s another rant for another day.
But back to 1941.
Most mid-20th century Americans were accustomed to listening to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s weekly program on the NBC Blue radio network each Sunday evening. Her addresses usually focused on current events and afforded her a platform to discuss what were scandalous notions for that era, like unique challenges facing working women and, presciently, whether a woman should be president.
After hearing scant reports about the morning attack in Hawaii, listeners eagerly tuned in that Sunday to hear Mrs. Roosevelt’s distinctive, calming voice. Her words assured and comforted terrified Americans who had previously been optimistic and secure about their families’ future and the fate of the country. Though they were caught unprepared and off guard that morning, Mrs. Roosevelt’s even-tempered response to these foreign forces threatening our freedom and way of life rallied them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and never surrender their freedom.
Seventy-five years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mrs. Roosevelt’s words still offer comfort, strength and resolve as we confront another terrifying global threat: the Trump administration.
Hyperbole, you say? I think not. President-elect Donald J. Trump (my fingers tremble and my stomach turns as I type those words) has pledged to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the Environmental Protection Agency and gun-free zones at military bases and in schools, reverse marriage equality, defund Planned Parenthood, ban most foreign Muslims from entering the United States, “bomb the sh*t out of ISIS,” target and kill the relatives of terrorists, bring back waterboarding,allow concealed-carry permits to be recognized in all 50 states, deport almost 11 million immigrants illegally living in the United States, end birthright citizenship and, presumably, leave no pussy ungrabbed.
Read these passages from Mrs. Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor address. They helped me stop throwing up in my own mouth, at least for a few minutes, and summon the courage to face the next four years.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
“I am speaking to you tonight at a very serious moment in our history…. For months now the knowledge that something of this kind might happen has been hanging over our heads, and yet it seemed impossible to believe, impossible to drop the everyday things of life and feel that there was only one thing which was important—preparation to meet an enemy no matter where he struck.
“That is all over now and there is no more uncertainty. We know what we have to face and we know that we are ready to face it….
“I should like to say just a word to the women in the country tonight…. You have friends and families in what has suddenly become a danger zone. You cannot escape anxiety. You cannot escape a clutch of fear at your heart and yet I hope that the certainty of what we have to meet will make you rise above these fears.
“We must go about our daily business more determined than ever to do the ordinary things as well as we can. And when we find a way to do anything more in our communities to help others, to build morale, to give a feeling of security, we must do it. Whatever is asked of us, I am sure we can accomplish it. We are the free and unconquerable people of the United States of America.
“To the young people of the nation, I must speak a word tonight. You are going to have a great opportunity. There will be high moments in which your strength and your ability will be tested. I have faith in you. I feel as though I was standing upon a rock and that rock is my faith in my fellow citizens.
“Now we will go back to the program we had arranged….
Unfortunately, the program we had arranged has been cancelled. But thank you, Hillary Clinton, for going where no woman had gone before with your intelligence, grace, wisdom and patience. You put a mega crack in the seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling once again. Thank you for giving America so much more than it gave back.
And now, we go to battle.