Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks at Malta

December 08, 1943

Lord Gort, officers and men, good people of Malta:

Nearly a year ago the Prime Minister and I were in Casablanca —shortly after the landings by British and American troops in North Africa—and at that time I told the Prime Minister some day we would control once more the whole of the Mediterranean and that I would go to Malta.

For many months I have wanted on behalf of the American people to pay some little tribute to this island and to all of its people- civil and military- who during these years have contributed so much to democracy, not just here but all over the civilized world. And so, at last I have been able to come. At last I have been able to see something of your historic land. I wish I could stay but I have many things to do. May I tell you though that during these past three weeks the Prime Minister and I feel that we two have struck strong blows for the future of the human race.

And so, in this simple way, I am taking the opportunity to do what all the American people would like to join me in doing. I have here a little token- a scroll- a citation- from the President of the United States, speaking in behalf of all the people of the United States. And may I read it to you:

"In the name of the people of the United States of America, I salute the Island of Malta, its people and defenders, who, in the cause of freedom and justice and decency throughout the world, have rendered valorous service far above and beyond the call of duty.

"Under repeated fire from the skies, Malta stood alone, but unafraid in the center of the sea, one tiny bright flame in the darkness—a beacon of hope for the clearer days which have come.

"Malta's bright story of human fortitude and courage will be read by posterity with wonder and with gratitude through all the ages.

"What was done in this Island maintains the highest traditions of gallant men and women who from the beginning of time have lived and died to preserve civilization for all mankind.

"Dated December 7, 1943.


I have signed it at the bottom and I wrote on it not today but yesterday, December 7, because that was the second anniversary of the entry into the war of the American people. We will proceed until that war is won and more than that, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the British Empire and our other allies in making it a victory worth while.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks at Malta Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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