Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address on Transferring an Anti-Submarine Patrol Ship to Greece.

June 10, 1943

Mr. Ambassador:

To most of us gathered here on this occasion, the year 1940 seems a long time ago. Yet in that year occurred an event which shall herald for all time the fact that mere force is not enough to banish man's desire and man's determination for freedom, nor man's willingness to sacrifice life itself that freedom may live.

History will proclaim the date of that event as October 28, 1940. We know the location of the southern peninsula of the Balkans—an area about the size of New York State. For far more than two thousand years, poets have sung of this land as the Kingdom of Hellas—known to us as Greece.

Although we had begun to prepare for the evil fates which were to befall the world in 1940, the United States was for the most part an apprehensive onlooker at the terrible pageant of history. In April of that year we saw the treachery against Norway, in May the unprovoked murder of Rotterdam, the fall of The Netherlands, and the capitulation of Belgium. In June of that year, Axis hordes marched into Paris as the banner of liberty hung at half-staff throughout the world. On September 27 of that year, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the pact under which they were to force the blessings of the New Order on a neatly parceled-out globe.

And then came October 28, 1940.

In Athens, the people and the Government were given three hours in which to decide whether to accept Axis slavery or to resist an Axis onslaught from the skies. I repeat—the people and the Government of Greece were given three hours, not three days, or three weeks. If they had been given three years, their choice would have been the same.

Today, Greece is a land of desolation, stripped bare of all the essentials of living. Thousands have died of hunger. Thousands are dying still. Today, Greece is a gaunt and haggard sample of what the Axis is so eager and willing to hand to all the world.

But within their own land, and upon other shores, the Greeks are fighting on. They will never be defeated. And the day will come when liberated Greeks will again maintain their own Government within the shadow of the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

As an expression of our hopes and our prayers that this day may be hastened, the Government and the people of the United States offer a token of our warm friendship for the Government and the people of Greece. This ship of war, built by American hands in an American yard, is delivered under the terms of Lend-Lease to fighting Greeks wherever they may be. As a part of the Royal Hellenic Navy—and christened King George Second—may she add even more luster to the glory that is Greece.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address on Transferring an Anti-Submarine Patrol Ship to Greece. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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