Fireside Chat 15: On National Defense (May 26, 1940): There are many among us who in the past closed their eyes to events abroad --because they believed in utter good faith what some of their fellow Americans told them -- that what was taking place in Europe was none of our business; that no matter what happened over there, the United States could always pursue its peaceful and unique course in the world.
There are many among us who closed their eyes, from lack of interest or lack of knowledge; honestly and sincerely thinking that the many hundreds of miles of salt water made the American Hemisphere so remote that the people of North and Central and South America could go on living in the midst of their vast resources without reference to, or danger from, other Continents of the world.
There are some among us who were persuaded by minority groups that we could maintain our physical safety by retiring within our continental boundaries -- the Atlantic on the east, the Pacific on the west, Canada on the north and Mexico on the south. I illustrated the futility -- the impossibility -- of that idea in my Message to the Congress last week. Obviously, a defense policy based on that is merely to invite future attack.
And, finally, there are a few among us who have deliberately and consciously closed their eyes because they were determined to be opposed to their government, its foreign policy and every other policy, to be partisan, and to believe that anything that the Government did was wholly wrong.
To those who have closed their eyes for any of these many reasons, to those who would not admit the possibility of the approaching storm -- to all of them the past two weeks have meant the shattering of many illusions.
They have lost the illusion that we are remote and isolated and, therefore, secure against the dangers from which no other land is free.
In some quarters, with this rude awakening has come fear, fear bordering on panic. It is said that we are defenseless. It is whispered by some that, only by abandoning our freedom, our ideals, our way of life, can we build our defenses adequately, can we match the strength of the aggressors.
I did not share those illusions. I do not share these fears...