Roosevelt’s Christmas Eve Address–December 24, 1943
Sixty-six years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed a national radio audience to discuss his recent meeting with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference. Stalin secured commitments to open up a second front against Germany. Roosevelt secured a commitment from Stalin to support an international security organization.
1943 was the turning point in the war, with victories in Stalingrad, North Africa, and Sicily. There was great cause for hope for the coming year. 1944 saw the Allied invasion at Normandy in June, the Big Four meeting at Dumbarton Oaks to establish the United Nations in August, and the liberation of Paris.
Here are a few choice paragraphs. (Full audio and text here):
On this Christmas Eve there are over ten million men in the armed forces of the United States alone. One year ago 1,700,000 were serving overseas. Today, this figure has been more than doubled to 3,800,000 on duty overseas. By next July first that number overseas will rise to over 5,000,000 men and women….
But — on Christmas Eve this year — I can say to you that at last we may look forward into the future with real , substantial confidence that, however great the cost, “peace on earth, good will toward men” can be and will be realized and ensured. This year I can say that. Last year I could not do more than express a hope. Today I express — a certainty though the cost may be high and the time may be long….
Within the past year — within the past few weeks — history has been made, and it is far better history for the whole human race than any that we have known, or even dared to hope for, in these tragic times through which we pass….
At Cairo and Teheran we devoted ourselves not only to military matters, we devoted ourselves also to consideration of the future — to plans for the kind of world which alone can justify all the sacrifices of this war….
Tonight, on Christmas Eve, all men and women everywhere who love Christmas are thinking of that ancient town and of the star of faith that shone there more than nineteen centuries ago. American boys are fighting today in snow-covered mountains, in malarial jungles, and on blazing deserts, they are fighting on the far stretches of the sea and above the clouds, and fighting for the thing for which they struggle. I think it is best symbolized by the message that came out of Bethlehem.
On behalf of the American people — your own people – I send this Christmas message to you, to you who are in our armed forces: In our hearts are prayers for you and for all your comrades in arms who fight to rid the world of evil. We ask God’s blessing upon you — upon your fathers, and mothers, and wives and children — all your loved ones at home. We ask that the comfort of God’s grace shall be granted to those who are sick and wounded, and to those who are prisoners of war in the hands of the enemy, waiting for the day when they will again be free.
And we ask that God receive and cherish those who have given their lives, and that He keep them in honor and in the grateful memory of their countrymen forever. God bless all of you who fight our battles on this Christmas Eve. God bless us all. Keep us strong in our faith that we fight for a better day for human kind — here and everywhere.
Just reading or listening to this speech will make you thankful for the (relative) peace on earth we currently enjoy.