Herald and Journal
Herald & Journal, December 7, 1998

'A day that will live in infamy'


It's been 57 years ago today, December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The action brought the United States into World War II. I remember the day well.

The radio was on that Sunday afternoon. Suddenly there was a bulletin with the news. For the rest of the day and into the night, all we heard was sketchy news and rumors about the attack. I don't think the radio stations ever went "back to our scheduled program."

I was 13 at the time. Going to fight didn't enter my mind then, but did later as I got older and nearer to draft age. I did worry about a possible Japanese invasion, because of the rumors of an imminent invasion along the west coast. I had heard about the atrocities committed

Not too long after Pearl Harbor, a song was written and recorded called "Remember Pearl Harbor." Sammy Kaye had the hit record. The number was a rallying cry. Soon after, Elton Britt recorded "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere." But the "war song" I really remember well was "Der Fuehrer's Face" by Spike Jones and his City Slickers. I often wondered if Adolf Hitler ever heard that record. It's possible that a spy got a copy and gave it to Hitler. He definitely wouldn't have liked the song. Maybe he even had Spike Jones on his hit list!

On the Monday morning after the bombing, we went to school as usual. The school bus was quiet. The seniors knew that they would be drafted into the service as soon as they graduated . . . and they were, with the exception of some farm boys who got farm deferments.

Just before noon, an assembly was called. Mr. Jacobson, the superintendent, set up a radio. President Roosevelt was going to address the Senate and the House. We were quieter than usual when the president's voice filled the room.

"Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941, a day that will live in infamy . . ."

I can hear that speech yet today. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war against Japan and Germany and Italy. And they did. I believe there was just one dissenting vote. So, for America it was the start of World War II. I was barely 17 when the war ended in 1945. I wasn't called in, but they got me five years later for the Korean War.

Lets remember Pearl Harbor and the day of infamy.

If you're young and burning with ambition and leaving home to find fame and fortune in the cold hard world, make sure you take a good map and an overcoat.

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