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Debunking claim God left off WW II Memorial 'Day of Infamy' quote

Posted by on July 30, 2008 – 1:21 pm

Don’t you just squirm when people you otherwise love and respect forward you email on some pretty revolting stuff. You don’t buy into such hatred material and smears and you begin to question the sanity of your friends and relatives who feel compelled to forward it to you. And we know much of those that contain the gotcha stuff on politicians or political groups are often phony.

What kind of friends do our friends keep, anyway?

So it is with one e-mail message that is tracking through Cyberspace. It insists those who designed and built the dramatic World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., a few years ago deliberately left out “so help us God” in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor “Day of Infamy” speech.

A longtime friend on Wednesday, religious and well-meaning as I have known him to be for more than 15 years, sent me a “PASS THIS ON!!” E-mail. It was termed “a bit of disturbing information.” Further on it was titled, “Shall we hire a monument engraver to go to Arlington National Cemetery and Add the Missing Words?”

To where? They can’t even get the place right, for starters. I have been to the World War II Memorial in the middle of the mall in Washington, D.C., (part-way between the Washington Memorial and the Capitol) and I have been to Arlington Cemetery – both places last summer – and the writer of this much-circulated e-mail should get that correct to have some credibility. The WWII Memorial is not at Arlington!

The E-mail tells how a group gathered to read “on the Pacific side” the words of Roosevelt that begin, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.” It goes on to say that one lady spoke up that “so help us God” was omitted from the end of this line: “With confidence in our armed forces, with the abounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable.” The e-mail writer exhorts, “Who gave them the right to change the words of history.”

Several Internet sites that work at finding truth, debunking Web rumors and checking the facts, have found that this e-mail is wrong. The inscription engraved on the wall is succinct and it is not from that portion of Roosevelt’s 485-word that did, in fact, contain “so help us God.” The part used on the memorial itself, however, comes four sentences before the sentence by Roosevelt that ends “with so help us God.”

The only part of Roosevelt’s speech used on the wall is:

PEARL HARBOR

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.

Critics could say the wrong part of Roosevelt’s speech was used – a quote that didn’t happen to bring up God.

Check it out at urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_war_memorial.htm

Chalk this up to another effort to prey on people who need any excuse to show anew that God is being marginalized and intentionally removed yet another way from “this great Christian nation.”

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  • Evelyn says:

    If you will go to this site, you can listen to the original audio of the famous speech from Roosevelt and see that urban legends are wrong on this one. The words, “So help us God” immediately follows, ‘With confidence in our armed forces, with the abounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph.’ It is all one sentence. Go check it out.
    http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches
    This time the e-mails were right.

  • Sandy says:

    The e-mails are not right. Read the text again. The writer made it clear that the part of the speech that is on the wall lies a good few paragraphs back of the sentence containing “so help us God” at the end. The point is that the inscription that is on the wall does not contain the sentence that is setting everybody’s feathers in a ruffle. This is the section of Roosevelt’s speech in question. Please look at the first paragraph, then look at the last one. You will see that the first sentence contains the wall inscription. The last sentence should not even be discussed, because none of it is on the wall!

    “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 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.:

  • Bo Gardiner says:

    Evelyn, what mental illness is it that makes you want to deceive people and deliberately sow anger?

    You’re counting on people reading your comment without digesting the original post. The quote you use, that indeed ends with “so help us God”, IS NOT THE QUOTE ON THE MEMORIAL! It’s whole PARAGRAPHS away!

    You should, quite simply, Evelyn, be ashamed of yourself.

    To those who seek truth, not anger, a photo of the quote on the memorial can be found at http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/memorial.asp .

  • Chuck says:

    I have to admit, I started looking into this with the expectation that Lawn, (is it Lawn? Can that be correct?) was equivocating, but he is correct. The email that is circulating mis-quotes what is on the monument. If what is quoted in the email was right, then the rest of the email would also be right, but it isn’t. The confusion comes from accepting the quote in the email as accurate, which it isn’t. The mention of God comes several sentences later. Sorry.

  • Bob C. Sr says:

    Evelyn is absolutely correct. If you would take the time to go to the website that she referenced you would hear, in President Roosevelt’s own words, the actual speech.
    As a child I listened to this very speech and tried to sign up immediately thereafter to do my part to avenge this terrible wrong. It was a very cowardly action on the part of a nation claiming to be our friend.
    She is correct; you ALL owe her an apology.

  • RM says:

    Here’s Roosevelt’s full speech in a December 2005 article. It clearly shows that Evelyn is correct. He did say “With confidence in our armed forces, with the abounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable – so help us God.”

    http://pokegym.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-27862.html

  • chriswithstix says:

    wow, evelyn and RM are both being pretty dishonest here. the audio clearly shows that there are several sentences between the one that is engraved and the one RM is quoting. the so help me god part exists, but at the end of a completely different sentence than the one that is engraved. i think they are counting on no one actually listening to the audio, looking at a picture of the memorial, and reading the transcript at the same time. if you do those 3 things simultaneously, it is quite obvious that the email is a piece of propaganda crap

  • Dave Moore says:

    Sorry folks, but this is an internet MYTH, a hoax, circulating in email chain letters (as with so much other nonsense) since at least 2004. It’s taken in a lot of good people, but it’s a fiction based on a poor recollection instead of fact.

    You can check Snopes or Urban Legend fact check sites, or if you’d prefer, just look to pearlharbor.org (or the National Archives web site, etc.) to find the exact text / transcripts, which shows that the WWII Memorial engraved quote is exactly correct, and that the words ‘so help us God’ appear not in the quoted sentence but later in the speech, to wit:

    “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.”

  • Dave Moore says:

    BTW – e.g., “RM” I’d trust the National Archives or peralharbor.org much more than a discussion board / forum post at “pokegym.net”.

    And, Bob and Evelyn, the very site you refer to perpetuate this myth shows in both the audio recordign and the transcript that both you and the email – pls reread – are incorrect. The quote was note edited to remove the words ‘so help us God’, those words appear elsewhere in teh speech not in the referenced / engraved sentence.

    The WWII Memorial engraved quote is exactly correct. Please reread the erroneous assertion in the chain email and then check your facts.

    There are allot of folks being needlessly stirred up by a fiction.

  • Greg says:

    THE AUDIO TAPE WAS FORGED/ALTERED…? yeah, right. C’mon people. What is going on?

    Sorry guys, but it is as clear as can be.

    click here… http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3324 and it plays word for word, in clear and concise actual audio from the president’s speech. The actual sentence falls at 00:06:57 of the playback. DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT THIS AUDIO HAS BEEN TAMPERED WITH?

    I understand that the memorial took only bits and pieces of the overall speech, but why take off the final four words of that particular sentence? After all, the president was confirming that with God’s help, we would attain victory. Trust me, as a Christian (which most of you reading and debunking this are probably not), victory may not have come without God’s guidance. We should be thankful for God’s grace and for the many lives that were sacrificed in that war. We are doing a disservice to this nation by doing our own creative editing. What if I only pulled ‘my own EDITED text’ from all of the schoolbooks being used in schools nowadays? I could really screw with it, I am telling you. The results of the readings would be totally different from what the publishers intended. Please, let me do some creative editing. Would that be beneficial? Besides, who decided on editing those final four words of that sentence?

    I understand the whole separation of church and state, but what does it to do our history when we start substituting and replacing and deleting words from famous speeches. What if I wanted to replace the word God with Allah in certain aspects? Would that cause an uproar? Hell yes it would. Why do we then delete the word ‘God’ when it was what the author originally meant to convey?

    This is another plain ass terrible example of how the minority ‘unbelievers’ are getting their way, even to the point of ‘rewriting’ (er, editing) historical texts.

    Either that, or I guess that maybe the country couldn’t afford the cost to engrave the final eleven characters…?

  • Matt says:

    OK, it seems like a lot of us are confused. Is it possible that you are ALL right?
    Many of the posts in this site are not looking at ALL of the facts.. Does the phrase “so help us God.” DIRECTLY follow the quote “we will gain the inevitable triumph”? Yes it does. Is it omitted from the monument? Yes it is. Does “so help us God” come a paragraph further down from the quote on the monument? Yes it does. The piece to the puzzle that is missing is THIS: The quote “we will gain the inevitable triumph” (which directly precedes “so help us God”) is not really on the monument. The E-Mail that is being circulated is in fact false because it misquotes the monument. Those who have listened to the audio and presented it as proof, are correct that “so help us god” follows “we will gain the inevitable triumph” but since the first part of the quote is not on the monument, we cannot say that “so help us God” was clipped off the end. A photograph of the actual monument makes this clear. http://urbanlegends.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.davidpride.com/USA/DC/DC%5F131.htm.

    • Lilly says:

      Snopes verifies what the actual inscription on the Monument is and then goes on to also verify that in the paraphrasing of Roosevelt’s speech the entire sentence (considered to be the most important of the speech by those who served in the War) was left out ENTIRELY to include the words, “So Help Us God”…NOTHING excuses the fact that for those who served and their families – the MOST Memorable and Valued sentence of the speech was left out entirely to include the words – “So Help Us God”. Clinton’s team decided what words would be inscribed, they selected the words based on applause (according to snopes)…so take a listen to the actual speech below and tell me (along with the opening sentence) what sentence stands out above the others in Roosevelt’s speech? Then it should make sense why MOST were upset that this sentence of the speech was left off the monument…

      http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches

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  • SHIRLEY says:

    NO MATTER I STILL BELEIVE IT WAS SAID , SO HELP US GOD I AM 81 YRS OLD & I LOOKED UP TO OUR PRESEDENTS THEN. NOW NO ONE CARES . WE HAVE GOTTEN AWAY FROM HONESTESY & HARD WORK EVERY ONE HAS THEIR HAND OUT . LIKE THEY SAID, YEARS AGO THERE IS NO FREE LUNCHES IF YOU DON’T WORK FOR THEM. SHIRLEY

  • David says:

    Being a Vietnam Era Vet and my Uncle being a WWII Vet I decided to add my own 2 cents. First of all the line with the Date “which will live in infamy” was said in the first sentence of the first page of the speech. Now the rest of the engraving shows up on the 2nd page 10th paragraph down (about 3/4 down on the page). The only place in the speech that says so help us God is on the 3rd page, 1st paragraph. I am a christian and I wish they had added “so help us God”, but they did’nt. I got this information from http://library.umkc.edu/spec-col/ww2/pearlharbor/fdr-speech.htm. You can see the written speech with the changes that FDR made before he gave the speech and also listen to the entire speech just as it was done over the radio in 1941. Please pray for the United States and the leaders because what ever you believe my God or your God whomever you worship will be needed to get us through this era of deception with the politicians we have now. So help us GOD.

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