Mr. McEwan made his way around to the memorial's "Pacific" section, where a group had gathered to read the determined words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he announced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked."What a heartfelt anecdote, perhaps worthy of Paul Harvey. Problem is, that sentence from FDR's speech is not the quote on the memorial, as you can see in this Snopes article.
One woman, says Mr. McEwan, read the words aloud: "With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph."
Suddenly, the woman became visibly angry: "Wait a minute," she told her husband. "They left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important part. Roosevelt said — 'so help us God.'... I know I'm right. I remember the speech."
The couple shook their heads and walked away.
As Mr. McEwan puts it, "The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war. But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are engraved on their hearts."
Those exact words were: "With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God."
Will the Times post a correction on its awesome Corrections page? Clearly we'll be waiting on that for a while. But it is possible to fire off an e-mail to John McCaslin at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him what kind of crack he's smoking.
FDR, of course, also said... "I hate war."
If only that wisdom lived on today.