Tag Archives: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Why remembering Pearl Harbor remains important today

On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service delivered a devastating blow to the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

This was a preemptive surprise attack by the Japanese, with the hope that they could decimate the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese believed that the United States was the greatest potential threat to their planned expansion of power in the Pacific region.

The early morning attack would launch in two waves from a half-dozen Japanese air craft carriers. Some 350 aircraft fighters and bombers would sink four American battleships and damage four more, sink eight other vessels, destroy 188 aircraft, and damage 159 more.

Over 2,400 Americans were killed with more than 1,100 injured. Japanese losses of life and equipment were minimal in comparison.

In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous and impassioned speeches in U.S. history to a joint session of the U.S. Congress the following day. It began as follows:

“Yesterday, December 7th, 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. 

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.”

To that point, the United States had been able to stay out of active involvement in World War II. Meanwhile, the Japanese had become involved in an “Axis” powers agreement with Germany under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini. Their aim was nothing less than global domination.

Roosevelt’s speech called on the Congress to declare war against Japan, which it did within the hour. Germany and Italy would then declare war on the United States. Thus began U.S. involvement in World War II, the deadliest war in human history.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Marshall Admiral of the Navy and leader of their combined fleet during the war, did not believe that Japan could win a lengthy war with America. 

Following the attack, Yamamoto is alleged to have written in his diary “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

American had been trying to stay out of World War II to that point. Formally declaring neutrality in the opening years of conflict, the U.S. gradually began to provide aid to Great Britain and others, and imposed economic sanctions on Japan.

The Japanese attack did indeed awaken America from its slumber. It forced us to realize that we could no longer ignore the expansionist aims of Hitler, Mussolini, and Japanese Emperor Hirohito. 

We were now forced to either allow these ideologies to overrun Europe and Asia, eventually becoming a major threat to our own security, or go to war to try and defeat them.

In the end, American military might and civilian industry proved the difference in winning the war. However, it would not be the last time that our nation was attacked on our own shores, or threatened by an ideology bent on world domination.

Flash forward nearly 60 years to September 11, 2001. Most Americans reading this require no reminder of what happened on that equally beautiful morning. Another sneak attack from the skies, this time from radical extremists bent on spreading the dominance of an Islamic worldwide caliphate.

That extremist ideology did not begin on 9/11, and it has not gone away today. The Islamists continue to spread their hope for a renewed global caliphate ruling under Sharia law in both aggressive and passive ways. 

Attacks and bombings by ISIL, ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda and others gain headlines in Europe and elsewhere. But the ultimate growth of the caliphate is also furthered by overrunning traditional populations of western nations through waves of unfettered immigration, followed by non-assimilation with that traditional culture. 

So-called “No-Go Zones” have formed in nations around the world. In recent years, they have begun to form right here in the United States of America. These areas have been largely closed off to legitimate authorities, and are being governed by principles of Sharia law rather than the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, the goal is to build more of these zones, and to grow and expand them.

The lessons of Pearl Harbor need to be remembered by Americans today, because there remain very real parallels. The ultimate goals of the Axis powers in World War II are similar to those of the radical Islamists today. 

The lesson of history is that you must be smart enough to recognize a threat when one emerges, and you must be prepared to face down that threat. To repeat an old but always relevant phrase, if we fail to remember the lessons of history we are destined to repeat them.

The history of Thanksgiving in America

Embed from Getty Images

President George W. Bush visits the Thanksgiving Shrine at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia


Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. As we gather to celebrate with family and friends, let me offer a short history lesson on the holiday origins in America.

In the fall of 1619 the ship Margaret set sail from Bristol, England on a roughly two-month voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Captain John Woodliffe would bring his ship with 38 settlers safely to what was known as Berkeley Hundred on December 4.

Berkeley Hundred was a land grant from the Virginia Company of London, an English stock company formed by King James I in order to fund the establishment of colonial settlements in America.

The Berkeley Hundred land grant went to a group of five men, including John Smyth, who became the official historian of the group. Over the next two decades he collected documents relating to the settlement of what would be known as “Virginia”, and these still survive today.

The land grant was for some eight thousand acres along the James River a few miles west of Jamestown, which itself had been the first British colony in the New World just a few years earlier.

The proprietors of the Virginia Company had directed in their granting of the land charter that “the day of our ships arrival…shall be yearly and perpetually kept as a day of Thanksgiving.

The settlers of the Margaret did indeed keep that celebration, doing so more than two years prior to the popularly remembered landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Over the hundreds of years since, there have been many disputes as to the official beginnings of this holiday which has become formally known as Thanksgiving Day here in America. Most of those disputes have been sources of regional pride battles between Virginia and the New England area.

When he became the first President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed that Thursday, November 26, 1789 was an official “day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.

It was from this Washington proclamation that most formal Thanksgiving celebrations were celebrated on the final Thursday in November. However, it was not an official national holiday. 

Following decades of lobbying by schoolteacher and author Sara Hale of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” fame, President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 called for such an official Thanksgiving Day holiday on the last Thursday in November. However, the rancor of the Civil War caused the celebration to become delayed until the 1870’s.

The United States would then celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November until the early days of World War II. On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a joint congressional resolution moving the official celebration to the fourth Thursday in November. 

It was believed that the earlier celebration would give the nation an economic boost during the difficult war years. Ultimately, this move would lead to the modern follow-up retail shopping phenomenon known as “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving. 

Most stores had been closed on the holiday itself. They would offer many sales promotions upon re-opening in order to entice shoppers back. This began to mark the opening of the Christmas holiday gift shopping season.

Over two decades later, on November 5, 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation aimed at assuaging the hotly debated Virginia-New England origin battles. JFK’s proclamation read as follows:

“Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together, and for the faith which united them with their God.”

Thanksgiving now continues to fall on that fourth Thursday of November here in the United States. This means that the formal date can range anywhere from the 22nd of the month through the 28th. We continue, to paraphrase President Kennedy, to set aside time to give reverent thanks for the faith which unites us with our God.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Pearl Harbor ignited nation in faith

I was trying to think of an appropriate way to blend my usual ‘Sunday Sermon’ article with a remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day.

I could have just went with two separate articles, but there had to be many connections between faith and the events of December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Naval forces at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

This sneak attack, which directly ushered America into World War II, resulted in President Franklin D. Roosevelt calling that Sunday morning “A date which will live in infamy!”

Hawaii was a U.S. territory at the time, it would not become a full state until 1959, and it was a major American naval outpost in the South Pacific. The United States had never been attacked directly from an outside enemy, considering the Civil War as a purely internal struggle.

So as the 353 Japanese bombers continually descended over Pearl without warning on that peaceful, sunny Sunday morning and began their devastating bombing and strafing runs, the significant American forces stationed there were taken completely by surprise.

The Japanese inflicted tremendous damage that morning in an attempt to keep America from influencing their plans to dominate Southeast Asia. Numerous American ships and aircraft were destroyed and damaged, while 2,402 Americans lost their lives at Pearl and another 1,282 were wounded.

The Japanese were allies of the Germans, and Hitler and his Nazi regime were already engaged in overrunning Europe. The Americans had tried to stay out of the war to this point, but in the aftermath of the attack at Pearl, Hitler declared war on the United States as an ally of Japan.

At that time the U.S. was not the most powerful nation on earth. Instead it was a budding military power that was still trying to fully emerge from the internal struggle of its lengthy economic Depression of the 1930’s.

America’s passions were enflamed by this attack and the deaths of so many young servicepersons, and the nation was rallied to open their eyes to the full scope of the danger in sitting back and not engaging the Nazis and the Japanese Imperialists.

When you look closely at the basic elements of the key nations in the titanic struggle that was WWII, one stands out above all to any person of faith. The Germans and the Japanese cultures were overrun by Nazis and Imperialists, and in Italy the Socialists were in charge. Combined they were known as the ‘Axis’ powers who wanted to spread their ideologies and power, and none had a place for God.

The Americans and British and the rest of what became known as the ‘Allies’ were largely God-fearing nations who frequently called on their faith to sustain during difficult times. That faith should always be appreciated by anyone who analyzes the eventual victory of the Allies in this epic struggle.

A victory by the Allies signified a victory for freedom, democracy, and religious faith over the purely secular Axis regimes. Americans flooded their churches during these periods, praying for the health and safety of their loved ones, and for victory for our side.

At home, they drew strength from this faith and forged one of the greatest industrial responses that mankind has ever seen, turning America’s manufacturing capabilities from civilian purposes to military, allowing us to eventually overtake what had been a military superiority for the Axis at the outset.

On the battlefields, in the skies, and on the seas, American military personnel were overwhelmingly Christian, prayed regularly, and turned to their faith during the difficult battles and circumstances in which they found themselves.

I have no doubt that the one true God hears the prayers of His faithful. He allows our free will and our human choices to lead events here on earth, but he will intervene at the worst times when the direction of humanity itself is at stake.

I have no doubt that God Himself intervened at numerous key times to give an ultimate advantage to the Allied forces in World War II. He granted us this intervention because we did not turn our backs on Him, and in fact turned even more towards Him during this difficult time.

The lesson that we can learn is that it is important to turn to the Lord during difficult times in both our national and personal experiences. But we should also not return to a spiritual malaise when things are going well.

Man’s nature has always been to drift away from God when things are going good, thinking that we are doing well without Him when the truth is that it is His very blessings that put us in such a good position. We all need to turn more to God, in good times and in bad.

Pearl Harbor became a rallying cry for the ‘greatest generation’, but there is question as to whether today’s America can possibly respond in the same way to an existential threat, such as that from Radical Islam.

We have drifted steadily away from God as a society and a nation since the end of WWII. We need to remember on this Sunday, December 7th, that Sunday morning 67 years ago, and never forget the blessings that God has given our nation throughout its history.

God bless the living Veteran survivors of that fateful day. Their work, their sacrifice, their faith lives on now in fame, not in infamy.

Freddie & Fannie getting some help

You may have heard of them, but you probably don’t know a whole lot about them. They are your good friends in the area of housing, and their names are Freddie and Fannie.

That would be Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, to be more precise, and as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was quoted recently they “play a central role in the housing system and must continue to do so in their current form…”.

On Sunday, Treasury and the Federal Reserve moved to secure the finances of the two giants, to ensure that they do not drown under the weight of what is termed the current ‘correction’ in the housing market.

Freddie Mac is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, a mortgage finance system that makes home ownership and quality rentals a reality for more American families, reducing the costs and expanding the choices by linking Americans to the world financial capital markets. It is stockholder-owned, and is authorized to make loans and loan guarantees.

Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress back in 1968 in order to provide competition for Fannie Mae, so the two are not so much a couple as they are competitors in the housing capital market.

Fannie Mae is the Federal National Mortgage Association, which was founded back in 1938 as a part of Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ programs. Fannie is also a stockholder-owned company that is authorized to make loans and loan guarantees.

The basic premise is that both of these Federally designed, but publicly owned, corporations provide the money that props up the U.S. secondary mortgage markets. Stay with me for a quickie and simplistic lesson on the process here.

For instance, you own your home and you have a mortgage with your bank for the financing of that home. Your mortgage is bundled in with a group of others to form what is known as a ‘collateralized mortgage obligation’, or CMO. This basically reduces the risk for the lending institutions, since the larger group is less susceptible to individual mortgages being defaulted on if a homeowner fails to meet their obligation of paying the mortgage.

The grouping is then further sold to other investors as a product called a collateralized debt obligation, or CDO. These CDO’s can then often be bundled with other CDO’s to make giant CDO’s made up of numerous mortgages.

The CDO’s are then publicly traded as investment products. So when housing is going good, the value of mortgages go up, and the value of the CDO’s goes up as well. When housing prices and sales fall, the value of your mortgage declines, and thus the value of the larger CDO’s also declines.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role is that, for a fee, they guarantee that the money on each mortgage will be paid back, regardless of whether the actual individual mortgage-holder every really pays back their particular mortgage. Investors in CDO’s with Fannie & Freddie allow the two to keep the fees based on this guarantee.

However, when particularly nasty down markets occur, such as is happening now, many individuals default on their mortgages and walk away, never to pay them off. Fannie & Freddie are stuck with having to payoff these obligations, and thus the risk is very real for these corporations in a poor market.

On Sunday, the government moved, through the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank, to ensure that Fannie & Freddie would be able to remain solvent today.

Both corporations have a $2.25 billion dollar line of credit with Treasury that is designed to get them through tough times until the market can turn around again, which it historically has always done. However, this downturn has been so severe that both Fannie & Freddie could exhaust these lines of credit this week.

So today, Freddie Mac is planning to attempt to sell $3 billion worth of securities on Wall Street for financing. There is real fear that they will not be able to sell these securities, and that this failure would set off a crisis of confidence in the world markets, and a worldwide sell off in all types of securities.

If investors don’t believe that they will get paid back on their investments, they will sell. That is where we are at. This is all high finance stuff, but it is all backed and affected by your own individual mortgages.

The Sunday moves by the Fed and Treasury ensure that, should these debt securities sales fail, Fannie & Freddie will still be supported by the increased federal credit lines.

Bottom line for the long haul is that what is needed is for the market to again turn around, as it always has, and begin another upturn. This will happen again at some point, but the sooner the better for the stability of American and world markets, as well as for individual mortgage holders.