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General News    H4'ed 10/9/20

FDR's Last Speech -- An Extraordinarily Articulate Plea for Peace

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"The work, my friends, is peace. More than an end of this war, an end to the beginnings of all wars. Yes, an end, forever, to this impractical, unrealistic settlement of the differences between governments by the mass killing of peoples."

Those were the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the speech he would never give. It was scheduled to be made on the radio to a Jefferson Day Dinner on April 13, 1945. But he died on April 12th, a day after reviewing and making several changes in the final draft.

The speech comprised the last words that FDR wrote for public utterance. click here

And they are meaningful as much now as they were 75 years ago, indeed, even more so in now the era of nuclear weaponry that used in war today would destroy life on earth on a more massive scale than has ever been known.

"Even as I speak these words, I can hear, in my mind's ear, an old, old chorus," Roosevelt continued. "You have heard it too. You will hear more of it as we go forward with the work a hand.

"It is the chorus coming from the defeatists, the cynics, the perfectionists, all the world's sad aggregation of timid souls who tell us, for one reason or another, it can't be done.

"They have been afraid to come along with us as we approached this task of destiny. And they will shrink, they will pull back and try to pull us back with them, as we get further into it.

"Oh yes, they will agree, war is horrible. War is hell.

"And yet, in their pale, anemic minds there is a kind of worship of this same horror of war. They tell us there can be no end to it. They endow it with immortality. They certify it to us as the ultimate fare of mankind on earth.

"Now, you and I don't stand in such awe and adoration. We don't think war deserves it.

"You and I are not willing to concede that we were put here on earth for no better purpose. And from here on, the wars that would come if we let them would leave precious few of us to argue to the contrary!

"You and I call war stupidity, not plain stupidity, but enormous, brutal stupidity, a crime that makes no more sense to its perpetrator than it does to its victim.

"Well, today that cult of the faint-hearted, the credo of those cringing adorers of a criminal precedent, is on its way out," FDR went on with the United Nations soon to be established and a vision of peace, after the horrors of World War II, before the world. "And in a span of time as far back as history goes, that is something new under the sun.

"To me there is no greater hope for humanity, there is no better sign in the world of our time, than this abject worship of war has become, for the first time, a minority belief. We have struck boldly forward in the inner world of our thinking, in the world that we project for our kind, and we have discovered that that world is not flat.

"True," he continued, "if there are new corporals who will want to become rulers of the earth, we cannot legislate wild fancies out of their minds," FDR said, referring to Hitler, a German Army corporal in World War I. "And if there are other impractical dreamers who must indulge themselves in their private nightmares, the pipedream that war is inevitable, we cannot pass laws abridging the freedom to dream.

"But we can and will stop these murderous hallucinations from reaching us. We can and we will keep them confined to the dream-world of would-be conquerors and defeatists who are their accessories before the fact. We can stop them from wrecking the lives of sane, sound, peace-loving, practical humanity. This we can do. And this we will do.

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Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up (

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