Not born yet?
Most people weren’t.
But a few of us were. I was 11 years old on that “Day of Infamy” That’s what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the day that took America into World War II.
As was said on CBS Sunday Morning, one of the best programs on TV in my view, that attack on December 7th, 1941 changed the United States from an isolationist nation to a global superpower.
It’s an interesting phenomenon that many people can remember exactly where they were when cataclysmic historical events happen. Here’s some of what I wrote about the Pearl Harbor attack in my memoir The Newsman:
On December 7th. 1941, my father was in his usual Sunday afternoon state, asleep in his easy chair. After lunch, he would turn on the radio and listen to the live CBS broadcast of the New York Philharmonic. Actually, he didn’t listen consciously to most of it, because within minutes of turning on the radio, he would fall asleep and sleep through the entire concert. However, I learned that he was not as asleep as I thought he was. One Sunday, I decided since he wasn’t listening to the symphony, I would tune to something that would appeal more to eleven-year-old me. As my hand reached for the dial, he said, without even opening his eyes, “Don’t touch that dial.” You better believe I did not touch that dial. He never fussed at me at all. If I did something that displeased him, he would, without uttering a word, engage in corporal punishment.
On December 7th it wasn’t I who roused him from his napping; it was interruption of the program by CBS announcer John Daley, who told the nationwide symphony orchestra audience that Japanese planes had attacked Pear Harbor. Everyone, including young me, knew that meant we would be going to war.
When I went out to play on that sunny December 7th afternoon after the news bulletin about Pearl Harbor broke, I remember telling my buddy Carlton Bussey who lived a few doors down from us, “This means war. A lot of people are going to be killed.” He solemnly agreed. There was no whooping and hollering and rebel-yelling that we had seen in Gone with the Wind when someone came running into the plantation house with the news that Fort Sumter had been bombarded by Rebel artillery.