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12 Powerful Pearl Harbor Quotes

a group of palm trees on a sunny day with Pearl Harbor in the background

Military and political leaders from World War II relied heavily on a powerful weapon: words.

Words inspired people to join the fight, and they inspired those at home to volunteer. Here are 12 of the most powerful Pearl Harbor quotes that helped shape the course of World War II:

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt on the morning after the Pearl Harbor attack

Hickam Air Force Base - Pearl Harbor WWII

“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt in an effort to keep the United States out of war

USS Nevada Pearl Harbor History

“No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, on why appeasing Adolf Hitler and the Nazi government in Germany was not a rational policy.

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” – Winston Churchill, in a decisive and defiant address as the British prime minister

USS Oklahoma Battleship (BB-37) Pearl Harbor

“You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.” – Winston Churchill, in making his commitment clear to the cause

USS Shaw Destroyer Pearl Harbor

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ “ – Winston Churchill, in an effort to rally the British not long after France fell to Germany

USS Oklahoma Battleship (BB-37) Pearl Harbor

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” – Winston Churchill, on the sacrifices many British pilots had already made in the war

USS Utah Pearl Harbor History

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.” – George S. Patton, in a plainspoken address to U.S. troops

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.” – Dwight Eisenhower, in a message to allied forces just before they embarked on the Normandy invasion

Pearl Harbor quotes

“Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell.” – Vice Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, spoken from his flagship Enterprise upon returning to Pearl Harbor and seeing the wreckage that included his scout aircraft.

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” – attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” – Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle

USS Oklahoma Battleship (BB-37) Pearl Harbor