World War II: An Encyclopedia of Quotations

World War II: An Encyclopedia of Quotations

World War II: An Encyclopedia of Quotations

World War II: An Encyclopedia of Quotations


A unique compendium of World War II quotations from the Allies, the Axis, and the neutrals, from the military, the diplomats, the government, and the civilians.


There was no period like it in all of American history. The years from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day were a time of the greatest American unity ever. Historians tell us that in the American Revolution no more than a third of the colonists favored American independence; another third were loyal to the king. The rest were on the fence. There was strong opposition to the War of 1812 as well as the Mexican War. The Civil War literally tore the country in two. American participation in World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm all had their opponents.

But once we were in it, World War II was America's own Great Patriotic War. Some historians would later call it the “Good War.” Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and men of the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine took part in global battle against the common enemy. Women played a crucial role as well—in uniformed services, as nurses, and in defense plants.

On the home front, everyone was in it one way or another. If you were a child, you collected old pots and pans for the scrap metal drive. If you were a housewife, you carefully saved up your ration coupons for the big holiday dinner. You sang the songs, cheered the war movies, bought the war bonds, and booed Hitler in the newsreels. You also scanned the casualty lists in the newspapers—and dreaded the sight of a Western Union messenger boy.

World War II was an unprecedented shared American experience. It was the school assembly listening to the president asking for a declaration of war. It was a common prayer on D-Day. It was the commander in chief on the radio inviting you to look at a map in the newspaper as he explained the strategy of defeating Hitler first.

We remember the pictures in Life and the Bill Mauldin cartoons. Because it was a radio age, we remember the spoken word: “a date which will live in infamy,” “peace in our time,” “the hand that held the dagger,” “give us the tools and we will finish the job,” “four essential human freedoms,” and “our sons will triumph.”

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