May 22, 2024
In 2019 we published our first holiday message. It was a reprint of the words of Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Christmas Eve in 1941 as he stood beside President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the South Portico of the White House. Last year we published President Franklin D. Roosevelt's words from his 1942 Christmas Eve message. At the risk of returning to the well one too many times, this year it seemed all too appropriate, in the 80th anniversary year of the attack on Pearl Harbor, to highlight FDR’s message from Christmas Eve 1941. There are so many things that you can choose to be mad or scared about in the world today. There have been too many lines drawn, dividing even friends and families. In truth the only thing that will get us all through this adversity is just as FDR closed his speech 80 years ago, the “conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies more than any other day or any other symbol.” The staff of WAR ROOM hopes, as we do each year, that you and your loved ones can find reason for cheer this season. We hope that you have good will towards your neighbors and pride in those who risk their lives daily both overseas and at home, defending our liberties, caring for the aged and ill among us, delivering packages, and keeping vital services open. This year we are presenting this holiday message both as an article as well as a podcast episode. You can listen to the original recording of the messages of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill below and on your favorite podcatcher.

In 2019 we published our first holiday message. It was a reprint of the words of Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Christmas Eve in 1941 as he stood beside President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the South Portico of the White House. Last year we published President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words from his 1942 Christmas Eve message.

At the risk of returning to the well one too many times, this year it seemed all too appropriate, in the 80th anniversary year of the attack on Pearl Harbor, to highlight FDR’s message from Christmas Eve 1941.

There are so many things that you can choose to be mad or scared about in the world today. There have been too many lines drawn, dividing even friends and families. In truth the only thing that will get us all through this adversity is just as FDR closed his speech 80 years ago, the “conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies more than any other day or any other symbol.”

The staff of WAR ROOM hopes, as we do each year, that you and your loved ones can find reason for cheer this season. We hope that you have good will towards your neighbors and pride in those who risk their lives daily both overseas and at home, defending our liberties, caring for the aged and ill among us, delivering packages, and keeping vital services open.

This year we are presenting this holiday message both as an article as well as a podcast episode. You can listen to the original recording of the messages of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill below and on your favorite podcatcher.

The White House, Washington, D.C., 24 December 1941

Fellow workers for freedom. There are many men and women in America, sincere and faithful men and women, who are asking themselves this Christmas; How can we light our trees? How can we give our gifts? How can we meet and worship with love and with uplifted spirit and heart in a world at war, a world of fighting and suffering and death?

How can we pause, even for a day, even for Christmas Day, in our urgent labor of arming a decent humanity against the enemies which beset it? How can we put the world aside, as men and women put the world aside in peaceful years, to rejoice in the birth of Christ? These are natural-inevitable-questions in every part of the world which is resisting the evil thing. And even as we ask these questions, we know the answer.

There is another preparation demanded of this Nation beyond and beside the preparation of weapons and materials of war. There is demanded also of us the preparation of our hearts, the arming of our hearts.

And when we make ready our hearts for the labor and the suffering and the ultimate victory which lie ahead, then we observe Christmas Day-with all of its memories and all of its meanings-as we should. Looking into the days to come, I have set aside a day of prayer, and in that proclamation I have said:

The year 1941 has brought upon our Nation a war of aggression by powers dominated by arrogant rulers whose selfish purpose is to destroy free institutions. They would thereby take from the freedom-loving peoples of the earth the hard-won liberties gained over many centuries.

The new year of 1942 calls for the courage and the resolution of old and young to help to win a world struggle in order that we may preserve all we hold dear. We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage.

But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us.

Therefore, I do hereby appoint the first day of the year 1942 as a day of prayer, of asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, of asking God’s help in days to come.

We need His guidance that this people may be a humble people, that it may be humble in spirit but strong in the conviction of the right, steadfast to endure sacrifice, and brave to achieve a victory of liberty and peace. Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies more than any other day or any other symbol.

Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love, and in God’s care for us and all men everywhere.

It is in that spirit, and with particular thoughtfulness of those, our sons and brothers who serve in our armed forces on land and sea, near and far, those who serve for us and endure for us, that we light our Christmas candles now across the continent, from one coast to the other on this Christmas Eve.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army, or the Department of Defense.

Photo Description: The Roosevelt Family in front of the White House Christmas Tree, December 24, 1941.

Photo Credit and Original Audio: FDR Presidential Library

2019 Holiday Message

2020 Holiday Message

1 thought on “FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: CHRISTMAS EVE 1941

  1. A league of their own – far and away above the rest of the political leaders of the 20 or 21st century. I agree with Roosevelt that Christmas tide is a time of coming together and remembering the love in our hearts for one another.

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