American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Pearl Harbor" (2001)


President Roosevelt Debates Response to Pearl Harbor Bombing with Defense Cabinet


President Roosevelt: Is it true? Men are still trapped alive inside the Arizona?

Admiral Nimitz: We can hear tapping from inside the hull. We're doing everything we can to get to them but they're 40 feet below water.

President Roosevelt: We've been trained to think that we're invincible and now our proudest ship has been destroyed by an enemy we considered inferior. We're on the ropes, gentlemen. That's exactly why we have to strike back now.

Admiral Nimitz: We're preparing an attack against the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, sir to keep --

President Roosevelt: I'm talking about hitting the heart of Japan the way they have hit us.

General Marshall: Mr. President, Pearl Harbor caught us because we didn't face facts. This isn't a time for ignoring them again. The Army Air Corps has long range bombers but no place to launch them. Midway is too far. And Russia won't allow us to launch a raid from there.

Admiral Nimitz:  The Navy's planes are small, they carry light loads, and have a short range. We'd have to get them within a few hundred miles of Japan, and therefore risk our carriers. And if we lose our carriers, we'll have no shield against an invasion.

President Roosevelt: Does anyone in this room think that victory is possible without facing danger? We are at war -- of course there's a risk.

General Marshall: But consider the risk, Mr. President. If the Japanese invade us right now, they would penetrate as far as Chicago before we could stop them.

President Roosevelt:  Gentlemen, most of you did not know me when I had the use of my legs. I was strong and proud -- and arrogant. Now I wonder every hour of my life why God put me into this chair. But when I see defeat in the eyes of my countrymen, in your eyes right now, I start to think that maybe he brought me down for times like these when we all need to be reminded who we truly are, that we will not give up, or give in.    

Admiral Nimitz: Mr. President, with all respect, sir, what you are asking can't be done.

President Roosevelt: Do not tell me it can't be done.

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American Rhetoric.
HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.