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Moving Beyond the Page /Online
Sample Lesson

Age 10-12 - World Wars I and II

Lesson 5: Mobilizing for War


Activity 1: A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Materials: colored pencils, crayons, markers, and other art supplies, highlighter
The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued this famous speech to Congress, which was broadcast on the radio and heard by millions of Americans. As you read this speech, underline or highlight words or phrases that you think are particularly powerful or important.
A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will be remembered the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

The White House
December 8, 1941
Source: National Archives and Records Service American Originals:
Web Link: Roosevelt's Response to Pearl Harbor
After reading Roosevelt's message to Congress, complete the pages, "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy."
In this activity, your child will read the speech that Franklin Roosevelt gave to Congress and the nation on December 8, 1941, asking Congress to declare war on Japan. Your child may also visit a National Archives and Records Administration website to listen to a recording of an excerpt of Roosevelt's famous speech. Your child will also analyze the speech using the activity pages.

Possible answers for the questions on the activity pages are listed below:
  • What do you think President Roosevelt meant when he called December 7, 1941 "a date which will live in infamy?" (The date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor will be long remembered as terrible and important date in our nation's history.)
  • Why do you think President Roosevelt explained the diplomatic situation with Japan prior to the attack on U.S. forces? (Answers will vary.)
  • What did he want the American people to understand about relations between Japan and the U.S. before this attack? (Your child may mention that the U.S. had been at peace with Japan, that Roosevelt may have wanted Americans to understand that every effort at diplomacy had been made by the U.S. and that Roosevelt may have wanted to emphasize that the Japanese government had made false statements intended to deceive U.S. officials.)
  • What kinds of adjectives did President Roosevelt use to describe the actions of the Japanese Empire on December 7, 1941? (Roosevelt used words like surprise, unprovoked, and dastardly.)
  • Does President Roosevelt seem certain that the correct course of action is to go to war? Does he seem certain about the outcome of the war? (Roosevelt leaves no doubt that this is the right course of action and that he firmly believes that the U.S. will be victorious.)
  • If you heard this speech on the radio, what might you be thinking and feeling? (Answers will vary.)
Web Link: Optional Extension:

Activity 2: Posters of World War II

Materials: A History of US: War, Peace, and All That Jazz 1918-1945 by Joy Hakim, 1 large sheet of posterboard, colored pencils, crayons, markers, and other art supplies
As the United States mobilized for war, the government very much needed the support and cooperation of the American people. The war effort needed people to participate in preparations for national defense, collect scrap metal for military use, conserve resources through rationing and other means, buy Victory Bonds to fund the war, plant victory gardens, protect troops overseas by keeping information about the military effort secret, and more. Posters produced by government offices reminded people of the things they could do to support the war, and one such poster is printed on page 158 of the book your are using for this unit.

Use the World War II era poster printed on page 158 and any others that you may see online or in other resources to complete the "Posters of WWII" page.

Once you are done, you will use the "Planning Your Poster" activity page to plan your own wartime poster.
Web Link: More Posters
In this activity, your child will analyze posters from the World War II era reprinted in the reading and available in online sources. If you like, you and your child could visit "Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II," an online exhibit from the National Archives.

Your child will select two posters to analyze and then plan a poster of his own. In a Day 2 activity, he will create a poster based on that plan.