Tags: Presidential History | harry truman wartime | highlights | quotes | speeches

Harry Truman Wartime Address Highlights: 7 Quotes From Speech

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 09:40 AM

Harry Truman found himself president, and taking over from a beloved leader, while his country faced a brutal war on two fronts. That was followed by the start of another war in which he had to deal with a revered but fractious military commander.

Here are highlights from his speeches about those wars:

1. Suddenly president after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, Truman’s first task was to honor his dead predecessor and carry on his goal to win the war. He told Congress and, over the radio, the American public: “No man could possibly fill the tremendous void left by the passing of that noble soul. No words can ease the aching hearts of untold millions of every race, creed and color. The world knows it has lost a heroic champion of justice and freedom ...

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“So much blood has already been shed for the ideals which we cherish, and for which Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived and died, that we dare not permit even a momentary pause in the hard fight for victory.” – Address Speech to Congress, made on April 16, 1945, upon taking office.

2. The new president reminded his audience in the same address that the work for peace would continue well beyond the end of the war: “It is not enough to yearn for peace. We must work, and if necessary, fight for it. The task of creating a sound international organization is complicated and difficult. Yet, without such organization, the rights of man on earth cannot be protected. ... The world will be doomed to deadly conflict, devoid of hope for real peace.”

3. Truman’s announcement of the dropping of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima began with a chillingly simple statement and a promise of more to come:
“Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy ... The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet.” – Radio address to nation announcing atomic bombing, Aug. 6, 1945, quoted on PBS.

4. But even as he announced the destruction of Hiroshima, Truman concluded the radio address with a look ahead at how atomic power could be used for peace: “I shall recommend that the Congress of the United States consider promptly the establishment of an appropriate commission to control the production and use of atomic power within the United States. I shall give further consideration and make further recommendations to the Congress as to how atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence towards the maintenance of world peace.”

5. Justifying U.S. forces fighting the Communist invasion of Korea to the American public, Truman spoke plainly: “In the simplest terms, what we are doing in Korea is this: We are trying to prevent a third world war.” – Radio address, April 11, 1951

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6. In the same address, he justified his firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur as commander of U.S. forces in the Far East: “I believe that we must try to limit the war to Korea for these vital reasons: to make sure that the precious lives of our fighting men are not wasted; to see that the security of our country and the free world is not needlessly jeopardized; and to prevent a third world war.

“A number of events have made it evident that General MacArthur did not agree with that policy. I have therefore considered it essential to relieve General MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.

“It was with the deepest personal regret that I found myself compelled to take this action. Gen. MacArthur is one of our greatest military commanders. But the cause of world peace is much more important than any individual.”

7. In laying out the need for economic assistance to Greece and Turkey after World War II and how it should be done
, Truman spelled out what came to be known as The Truman Doctrine: “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

“I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.” – Speech to joint session of Congress, March 12, 1947, quoted on American Rhetoric.

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Harry Truman found himself president, and taking over from a beloved leader, while his country faced a brutal war on two fronts. That was followed by the start of another war in which he had to deal with a revered but fractious military commander.
harry truman wartime, highlights, quotes, speeches
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2015-40-22
Friday, 22 May 2015 09:40 AM
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