In the midst of the ongoing conflict with this great country, a higher up in the Iranian government issued words that were perhaps more historic than they even realized. It spurred thoughts on historic words associated with historic conflicts.
The Iranian leader said that by firing at a base in Iraq where Americans were stationed the country might have “awoken a sleeping giant.” Based on the last time those words were uttered, Iran would be wise to take a history lesson.
Those were the same words uttered by officials high in the Japanese empire before the dust settled in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor. The eventual results of that attack on America proved how right they were.
Military battles often evoke powerful words. The attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in what is likely the most historic quote in American history when President Franklin Roosevelt said of that event that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Those words, heard by most Americans on AM radio truly soothed a shocked nation.
It was in that same era when Sir Winston Churchill said in regards to the Battle of Britain, that “never in the course of human history has so much been given by so few to so many.”
Those powerful words were in reference to the brave English air pilots who successfully turned back the powerful German air force trying to bring London to its knees.
Churchill is also credited with the famous promise, fulfilled by a Ally victory, that his nation would never surrender in its quest to defend itself against Facist aggression. In a way only Churchill could, the great leader boldly and correctly predicted his country’s ultimate place on the victors side in the second great World War.
Another of America’s greatest speeches was also made in proximity to one of our great battlefields. It was at the bloody battlefield of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania where President Abraham Lincoln uttered his Gettsyburg Address. One of his quotes that day was, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
History has shown that we indeed have endured.
Great wartime orations are not limited to the early days of this country’s history. It was now nearly 20 years ago, while the dust literally settled at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, that President George W. Bush said, “A great people have been moved to defend a great nation.”
Those words, like those of Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor, brought at least a little sense to a world that seemed senseless at the time. As late as this week, brave young American soldiers sacrificed their lives in pursuit of this battle.
Not all quotes about war are encouraging or uplifting. The great philosopher Plato stated, “Only the dead know the true end of war.” That is an unfortunate fact.
As long as people exist on this planet, there will be wars and leaders will probably comment on those contests. Our history books are full of these quotes that provide a better context as we study our nation’s past.
Tom Woerner is a former reporter with The Daily Record and editor of the Harnett County News. He can be reached at email@example.com.