Day of Infamy
“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 words spoken by United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt. These are the words that open the one speech that would put America down a path leading to 418,500 American lives lost and two nuclear bombs dropped for the first, and so far last, time in human history. But facing the position that the nation was placed in, it would be an understatement to call this speech necessary. The American people were in shock. Not since the year 1812 had the American people been assaulted on their home turf. Sure they had seen war, but never this close. President Roosevelt needed to deliver a speech that inspired and rallied the nation for what he knew would truly be, one of the most infamous moments in American history.
One of the first things to note is that Roosevelt uses ethos to appeal to his audience by his formality, his position, and his concise reasoning which all lead the U.S. to declare war. The backing of his claim is simple. Roosevelt is the Commander of Chief during a time many Americans already considered a time of war. Through this, he knows what he's talking about and this alone greatly grants anything he would say great credibility. He explains the situation how it honestly was, that “the United States was at peace with 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”. This statement is then backed up with proof by presenting his audience with the fact that the United States received a letter from Japan an hour after the attack that contained no threats of war. Furthermore, Roosevelt clarifies the situation as he presents and then discusses the immediate effects of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Along with these details, he discusses the other attacks Japan made on that same day with specific names and places, all of which working together to build his credibility further. Through applying this use of ethos, the President reaches out to his audience of which contains both congress and the American people. He constantly must remember that he is not trying to persuade the American people completely. He understands the position of the vast majority of the nation is aligned with his. His entire purpose in this speech is to formally reassure the nation 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.” By understanding this fact, Roosevelt delivers his speech from a strong and assertive tone. He frequently uses confident phrases such as “we will gain the inevitable triumph” and “the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” These, along with many other statements in the speech grant themselves to his central purpose, being to reassure the American people.
President Roosevelt also, throughout his speech, lends his words to the emotions of the American people. Once again, Roosevelt knows his audience. He explains that the attack on Pearl Harbor was deliberate and deceitful. He asserts that, “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.” To the audience, who is already angered by the incident, this would have been a powerful reminder that they need to be prepared for any action the United States Government, with the leadership of President Roosevelt, should wish to undertake. One of the most powerful tools used by the President is the repetition of words or phase either back to back or spread out throughout the…