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FDR’s Christmas Eve Broadcast 1939

December 23, 2015

World War II began on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. The United States would not enter the war for more than two years, but on Christmas Eve 1939 President Roosevelt began his radio broadcast by mentioning “the burden of suffering laid upon [the world] by man’s inhumanity to man.”
FDR then offered the following comfort to the nation. “But, thank God for the interlude of Christmas. This night is a night of joy and hope and happiness and promise of better things to come. And so in the happiness of this Eve of the most blessed day in the year I give to all of my countrymen the old, old greeting – “Merry Christmas – Happy Christmas.” [Now, the reader may think we have misquoted FDR and that ‘Happy’ should have been followed by ‘New Year.’ We assure you that “Merry Christmas – Happy Christmas” are FDR’s exact words.]
The President mentioned that he always re-read Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” at Christmas. He drew some comparisons between the reformed Scrooge and the neighborliness of American citizens for one another. He concluded by reading Matthew 5:3-10. We quote these verses below from the King James Version of the Bible, just as FDR read them on Christmas Eve 1939.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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