Franklin D. Roosevelt

Statement on the Landing of American Troops in the Philippines.

October 20, 1944

This morning American troops landed on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. The invasion forces, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, are supported by the greatest concentration of naval and air power ever massed in the Pacific Ocean.

We have landed in the Philippines to redeem the pledge we made over two years ago when the last American troops surrendered on Corregidor after five months and twenty-eight days of bitter resistance against overwhelming enemy strength.

We promised to return; we have returned.

In my last message to General Wainwright, sent on the fifth of May, 1942, just before he was captured, I told him that the gallant struggle of his comrades had inspired every soldier, sailor, and marine and all the workers in our shipyards and munitions plants. I said that he and his devoted followers had become the living symbol of our war aims and the guarantee of our victory.

That was true in 1942. It is still true in 1944.

We have never forgotten the courage of our men at Bataan and Corregidor. Their example inspired every American in the stern days of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Salerno, and Normandy. And in every campaign—on battlefront or home front—we remember those men, and their memory spurs us to greater effort.

Nowhere has the desire to avenge their comrades been stronger than among the forces of the Southwest Pacific. Leyte is another rung in the long ladder General MacArthur's men have been climbing for two years.

Starting on the underside of New Guinea in the autumn of 1942 when Australia herself was in danger, pushing over the Owen Stanley Mountains, burning and blasting the Japanese out of Buna and Gona, digging them out of Wewak, starving them at Hollandia—the advance has been a slow, tough struggle by our jungle fighters.

Now they have reached Leyte.

In the six years before war broke out, the Philippine Government, acting in harmonious accord with the United States, made great strides towards complete establishment of her sovereignty. The United States promised to help build a new Nation in the Pacific, a Nation whose ideals, like our own, were liberty and equality and the democratic way of life- a Nation which in a very short time would join the friendly family of Nations on equal terms.

We were keeping that promise. When war came and our work was wrecked, we pledged to the people of the Philippines that their freedom would be redeemed and that their independence would be established and protected. We are fulfilling that pledge now. When we have finished the job of driving the Japs from the Islands, the Philippines will be a free and independent Republic.

There never was a doubt that the people of the Philippines were worthy of their independence. There will never be a doubt.

The Filipinos have defended their homeland with fortitude and gallantry. We confidently expect to see them liberate it with courage and audacity.

Under the leadership of President Manuel Quezon whose death came on the eve of his country's liberation, and now under the leadership of their President Sergio Osmena, the Filipinos have carried on, and are carrying on, with gallantry—even in the midst of the enemy.

We are glad to be back in the Philippines but we do not intend to stop there.

Leyte is only a way station on the road to Japan. It is 700 miles from Formosa. It is 850 miles from China. We are astride the lifeline of the war lords' empire; we are severing that life line. Our bombers, our ships, and our submarines are cutting of[ the ill-gotten conquests from the homeland. From our new base we shall quicken the assault. Our attacks of the last week have been destructive and decisive, but now we shall strike even more devastating blows at Japan.

We have learned our lesson about Japan. We trusted her, and treated her with the decency due a civilized neighbor. We were foully betrayed. The price of the lesson was high. Now we are going to teach Japan her lesson.

We have the will and the power to teach her the cost of treachery and deceit, and the cost of stealing from her neighbors. With our steadfast allies, we shall teach this lesson so that Japan will never forget it.

We shall free the enslaved peoples. We shall restore stolen lands and looted wealth to their rightful owners. We shall strangle the Black Dragon of Japanese militarism forever.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on the Landing of American Troops in the Philippines. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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