This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 4, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
Watch The O'Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the Radio Factor!
BILL O'REILLY HOST: Now for the top story tonight, a compelling question on the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Does America have the courage to make sacrifices like these?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SAVING PRIVATE RYAN")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Joining us now, John Meacham, the managing editor of "Newsweek" magazine and the author of the bestselling book "Franklin and Winston," a good gift for Father's Day.
So now we have a divided public on the war in Iraq. We have a divided media. We have divided everything. How can we ever possibly win World War III against terrorism in this state?
JOHN MEACHAM, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE: I would never bet against the American people in coming together when they believe they are under attack and when they believe that there is a discernible gathering threat.
O'REILLY: Well, discernible is the key word here. It's almost like you have to see the tanks rolling down the street, because as I said in the "Talking Points" memo, the propaganda is so thick. It's very hard for people to know the truth.
MEACHAM: But the road to D-Day, if you let me put my historian's hat on for a second, the road to D-Day was long and torturous. 27 months Winston Churchill stood alone. It took us a long time, from September 3, 1939, until December 11, 1941.
Remember, we didn't declare war on Hitler until Hitler declared war on us. We did not believe a majority of the country, a huge majority of the country was not willing to confront Hitler and Hitlerism. 95 percent of the country in October of 1939 didn't want to do it. October 1940, right before President Roosevelt was re-elected fairly narrowly against Wendell Wilke, we had 83 percent of the country saying we don't want to go to war.
O'REILLY: Stay out of it.
MEACHAM: Stay out of it.
O'REILLY: Stay out of it, right.
MEACHAM: And on August, 1941 after Churchill and Roosevelt parted after that secret summit at sea, they issued the Atlantic charter. They sing the hymns together "Onward Christian Soldiers," "Eternal Father Strong to Save," "Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past. A moment of great Anglo-American unity, fighting the evil of Nazism. While Roosevelt was at sea, the House of Representatives passed the extension of the draft by one vote.
O'REILLY: One vote. Now listen, but here's the deal.
MEACHAM: So it's -- excuse me, in a democracy, you're always going to have division and a spirit of criticism. But I just go with -- my money is on what Ronald Reagan said.
O'REILLY: But it's a different time today. And that's what I don't think most people aren't taking into consideration. Back then, you had radio and radio only to get your information. And the president had fireside chats he could tell you. Now you have a whole bunch of polarized media, media that basically in the business of promoting an ideology, rather than giving people the news. People are very, very confused.
We're in World War III. Most Americans don't even know we're in World War III. They don't know what the threat is to the United States that a nuclear device could be set off at any time by al Qaeda. They'll do it.
Yet we are now asked to make sacrifices over in Iraq. And half the population goes why? We don't understand why.
O'REILLY: Don't you see it? It's so much more complicated than a Hitler and a Tojo.
MEACHAM: It is, but let's not make history less complicated than it was. History is always simpler in memory than it was in fact. Roosevelt faced and Churchill faced great criticism in 1942 and 1943 for not launching Operation Overlord sooner. We...
O'REILLY: In hindsight.
MEACHAM: Well, no, in real time.
O'REILLY: But here's...
MEACHAM: There was a movement called Second Front now.
O'REILLY: We have a tremendously effective volunteer military right now. It's the best in the world by far. But the rest of our society in America is soft.
O'REILLY: We aren't Depression kids like my father was. And we aren't tough. We are soft and we are lazy. Do you realize that 53 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-29, according to Gallup, don't even know who we fought in Europe in World war II? 53 percent don't know who we fought. We are a soft nation. But you still believe that we're going to beat these terrorists?
MEACHAM: I absolutely believe we're going to beat the terrorists, whether they are state sponsored or non state sponsored, because Hitler made the same bet that we were too soft. He said on the 11th of December, 1941, he said that I do not believe America has much of a future. It's just too decayed a country because there are too many races. And they love money too much. And a whole world of Roosevelts and Churchills cannot beat the youth of Germany and...
O'REILLY: Well, I hope you're right, because I think we're in a very confusing...
MEACHAM: And we saw what happened.
O'REILLY: I think we're in a very confusing time now, John. And people have got to really wise up.
MEACHAM: I think your point about we have to be tough and hard is exactly right.
O'REILLY: We do.
MEACHAM: And resolute.
MEACHAM: What President Reagan said 20 years ago at his 40th anniversary at Normandy, he said where do we find such men? And as soon as I asked the question, I remembered, we find them where we have always found them -- in the farms, in the villages, and the towns.
O'REILLY: OK. John Meacham, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.