07 December 2005

"Man-on-the-Street", Washington, D.C., December 8, 1941

War Veteran: Pardon me, and I'm going to tell you something else. United States never lost a war yet, they're never going to lose it. Because, by gosh, we might chewing the rag about our presidents, about our Congressmen, about our, what do you call it, the -- in charge of a state --
Philip Cohen: Secretary of State?
War Veteran:
No, no, no.
Philip Cohen: Governors?
War Veteran: Governors. But when it comes to fight, damn it, we will fight to the last breath. And I'm mighty damn proud I am American. The only one thing hurts me, my heart is American, my toes are American, but my damn tongue, I never could nationalize that. [laughter]

"Man-on-the-Street", Washington, D.C., December 8, 1941

Philip Cohen: Were you surprised by the news or did you --

Fourth Draftee: No, I rather expected it. It looked like the appeasement talks had failed, or the peace talks had failed. It was just a question of time. See the . . . something had to be done very quick about that. Come right to our feet. It was either to go to war or give it up [talking in background].

Philip Cohen: Do you think this is going to be a short or a long war?

Fourth Draftee: No, I think it will be a long, drawn out affair.

Philip Cohen: Do you think it's going to be any more than just the present war or just with Japan?

Fourth Draftee: No, Germany, Italy, and Japan have a mutual assistance pact I believe isn't it?

Philip Cohen: Has anything been done about that?

Fourth Draftee: Well, Italy and Germany haven't declared war yet, but they're expected to momentarily the way I understand it.

Philip Cohen: Sir, would you say a word? What's your name?

War Veteran: Yes sir. My name is [removed]. I'm a World War veteran, '17 and '18.

Philip Cohen: Mm, hmm [affirmative].

War Veteran: The last time I went to fought for democracy. [loud intermittent banging from shooting gallery] They told me to fight for democracy. And I went over, and I volunteered. But next time I'm going to fight with the hate in my heart. What's in me, what's in my veins, I'm going to kill, slaughter those [not a one (?)]. If I come across a wounded one, it wouldn't interest me. I'd kill my own father if he dare to fight against this country. I am American, not by birth, but by choice and I'm mighty damn proud of it. What we ought to do in this country to chase every damn skunk, German, Russian, the Japanese where they come from and never bring them back in this country. I wish I was the president for about one year, there'd be not a goddamned skunk left here in this country [laughter]. I tell you that right here and right now. [several voices talking at once].

Second War Veteran: That goes for me too. I'm a veteran too.