The Unnamed War

What the country needed, Mr. Roosevelt announced briskly, was a name for its war. The thought the name should convey: a struggle to preserve the democracies and the small people of the world. "War With the Axis Powers," which someone suggested, was too long. The President did not like "Second World War," "World War II." Not enough zip, Mr. Roosevelt declared.

The people scratched their heads. What, indeed, was a good name for the war? Asked for his suggestion, onetime Isolationist Senator Burton K. Wheeler declared: "There is far too much pending now to permit anyone to stop and ponder anything...