Charles Lindbergh — his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 earned him the name Lone Eagle and made him a celebrity all over the world. In fact, he was the first personality who literally had to contend with hounding media and photographers who were in a round-the-clock lookout for him. Every newspaper featuring any Lindbergh quote, story or picture sold well.
However, on September 11, 1941, Lindbergh gave his impassioned and what-was-to-become notorious speech in Des Moines, Iowa. It was aimed at persuading Americans to stay neutral in the impending war that later evolved into World War II. But that “Who are the war agitators?” branded him anti-Semitic and a Nazi sympathizer.
Rise of The Lone Eagle
On May 20-21, 1927, then 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh rose from being an unknown US Air Mail pilot to instant star when he attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a single-seat and single-engine monoplane Spirit of St. Louis and did so successfully. He flew from Roosevelt Field, New York crossing 5,800 kilometers and landed on Le Bourget Field, Paris, France on the same day making it in history as the first man to be in New York one day and Paris the next.
Due to his daring exploit, Lindbergh, who was a US Army Air Corps Reserve officer, received from the government the highest military recognition given to Military personnel – the Medal of Honor.
His rose to fame, however, had brought upon the kidnapping and death of his son, Charles Jr., in 1932, the felony dubbed The Crime of the Century.
Shortly after his son’s death, Lindbergh and his wife ‘self-exiled’ to Europe. Nevertheless, he continued to travel around the world and promoted commercial aviation development.
Before America entered WWII formally, the famous pilot was one of the individuals who was against its fighting. He wanted the nation to maintain a neutral stand. And so, he founded his America First Movement; the organization became the largest and most successful ‘isolationist’ (term given that time to those who opposed the war for neutrality) group in the country.
It was to this cause and in a First America Rally in Des Moines, Iowa that he gave his disreputable speech which led the press to brand him a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semitic.
This was the most well-known part of that said declamation:
“The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.
Behind these groups, but of lesser importance, are a number of capitalists, Anglophiles, and intellectuals who believe that the future of mankind depends upon the domination of the British empire. Add to these the Communistic groups who were opposed to intervention until a few weeks ago, and I believe I have named the major war agitators in this country.
I am speaking here only of war agitators, not of those sincere but misguided men and women who, confused by misinformation and frightened by propaganda, follow the lead of the war agitators.”
In fairness to the Lone Eagle, he did support America’s efforts in WWII after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He even flew a number of combat missions within the Pacific Theater of WWII but as a civilian consultant as President Roosevelt refused to reinstate his Army Air Corps’ commission from which he resigned in April 1941.