Exactly 70 years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. We can look at that event now, through the prism of time and distance coldly, rationally, and understand that war was forced upon us. We can vaguely sense the outrage and shock that Americans at that time felt as an echo that has crossed over the decades to arrive diminished and largely cleansed of the raw power those emotions engendered in the America of 1941.
But if you want to get a real sense of the almost speechless rage and feelings of utter betrayal that Americans felt at the time, you can do no better than listen to Franklin Roosevelt's masterful Declaration of War, given before a joint session of Congress on December 8.
Roosevelt's indictment of the Japanese imperial empire is rightly considered one of the finest speeches of the 20th century. Like the Continental Congress laying out the reasons for going to war with Great Britain to achieve our freedom in the Declaration of Independence, Roosevelt carefully built his case for war with a series of accusations falling like hammer blows against the Japanese that leave one breathless today. The speech is short - barely 8 minutes - but it encapsulates all the horror, the anger, even the feelings of helplessness that the American people felt that day.