It was 71 years ago today that America stepped into World War II. At dawn on December 7, 1941, Japanese forces launched a sneak attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The raid killed 2,403 Americans. “It is a date which will live in infamy,” declared President Franklin D. Roosevelt that night as Americans gathered around their radio receivers. It was not the era of instant everything—especially news—and this broadcast let America know it was at war.
Citizens embraced the war effort—men, from movie stars to regular Joes—lined up to enlist. America’s women also did their part—from working in munitions plants and shipyards to wrapping bandages to enlisting as nurses to care for the wounded. It was one country, one goal.
Most of us weren’t even born then. For us World War II is just a chapter from history books or a video game. But, for seniors, it was real.
An article in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), shed light and perspective on some survivors who were there and the memories they carry. Sailors were getting ready for Sunday services when the drone of planes was heard. As torpedo shells and bombs hit, the Americans headed for their battle stations. One Air Force veteran stationed at Wheeler Field recalled being awakened the sound of planes. He said, “Boy, I got up, looked out my window, and there they were plain as day, flying a regular traffic pattern around our field, very low, firing their weapons.”
I’m sure many of you have residents who served in the war, although their numbers are shrinking. If you can, take time to acknowledge these good people. If you don’t have anything planned, that doesn’t matter. Slip them an extra piece of pie and a special smile. They ask for little and give so much.