This year I am speaking on Christmas Eve not to this gathering at the White House only but to all of the citizens of our Nation…
Last year 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.
We’d like to continue that tradition.
This year we’re reprinting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words from his 1942 Christmas Eve message. The United States had joined the war effort nearly a year earlier and the President’s words were geared towards families that were without mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. He sent Christmas greetings and messages of cheer to those who toiled in industry and those who served in uniform abroad.
The United States and its allies still have servicemembers serving overseas in peace and in conflict, and these deployments and locations often mean families are apart for the holidays. But much of the world is grappling with holiday separations and an ongoing crisis this year to manage COVID-19 and its effects. In the present day one can imagine that this past President is also addressing families that have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and the frontline health care providers and first responders who are waging the battle without rest in hospitals across the world. But unlike the factories in 1942, this year the ICUs and emergency rooms will not be stilled. And first responders will still be on the streets helping people in need.
As the first batches of vaccines are being administered to those health care providers and our elderly population, there is new hope that our lives will return to something resembling normal in the not-too-distant future. But in the meantime, the world needs all the best that the winter holiday season represents: the hope of things to come. The staff of WAR ROOM hopes 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, caring for the aged and ill among us, delivering packages, and keeping vital services open.
The White House, Washington, D.C., 24 December 1942
This year I am speaking on Christmas Eve not to this gathering at the White House only but to all of the citizens of our Nation, to the men and women serving in our American Armed Forces and also to those who wear the uniforms of the other United Nations. I give you a message of cheer. I cannot say “Merry Christmas”-for I think constantly of those thousands of soldiers and sailors who are in actual combat throughout the world-but I can express to you my thought that this is a happier Christmas than last year in the sense that the forces of darkness stand against us with less confidence in the success of their evil ways.
To you who toil in industry for the common cause of helping to win the war, I send a message of cheer-that you can well continue to sacrifice without recrimination and with a look of Christmas cheer-a kindly spirit toward your fellow men.
To you who serve in uniform I also send a message of cheer-that you are in the thoughts of your families and friends at home, and that Christmas prayers follow you wherever you may be.
To all Americans I say that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is not enough-that we as a Nation and as individuals will please God best by showing regard for the laws of God. There is no better way of fostering good-will toward man than by first fostering good-will toward God. If we love Him, we will keep His Commandments.
In sending Christmas Greetings to the Armed Forces and merchant sailors of the United Nations we include therein our pride in their bravery on the fighting fronts and on all the seas. But we remember in our greetings and in our pride those other men who guard remote islands and bases and will, in all probability, never come into active combat with the common enemy. They are stationed in distant places far from home. They have few contacts with the outside world, and I want them to know that their work is essential to the conduct of the war-essential to the ultimate victory-and that we have not forgotten them.
It is significant that tomorrow-Christmas Day-our plants and factories will be stilled. That is not true of the other holidays we have long been accustomed to celebrate. On all other holidays work goes on-gladly-for the winning of the war.
So, Christmas becomes the only holiday in all the year.
I like to think that this is so because Christmas is a holy day. May all it stands for live and grow throughout the years.
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: Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Christmas message on the radio from his study in the FDR Library in Hyde Park, New York, December 24, 1943. NPx 61-71
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum