The day after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress. His speech that day, which summoned a nation to war, would become among the most iconic in American history — particularly Roosevelt's famous line describing the outrageous attack the prior day:
"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."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
In an effort to keep the United States out of war, Roosevelt made the case during a fireside chat on Dec. 29, 1940, that the nation must provide additional support to Great Britain. During his remarks, he coined the famous "arsenal of democracy" phrase.
"We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war."
"No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender."
Perhaps no leader in history used oratory more effectively than Churchill during World War II. His decisive and defiant addresses inspired a nation teetering on the brink. In his first speech as the British prime minister before the House of Commons in May 1940, Churchill made clear his commitment to the cause:
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
"You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival."
A month later in June, Churchill rallied the British not long after France fell to Germany:
"Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.' "
In August of that year, the prime minister spoke of the sacrifices many British pilots had already made:
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
George S. Patton
Patton achieved legendary status during World War II, and his plainspoken style endeared him to U.S. troops. Among the quotes credited to him:
"May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't."
Eisenhower, commander of allied troops in Europe, delivered this message to allied forces just before they embarked on the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944:
"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you."