Friday, December 07, 2007

December 7, 1941

We lived in a different America then. News that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor came from bulletins that broke into Sunday afternoon radio programs and was spread by word of mouth over the telephone, on the streets of cities and house to house in small towns.

World War II came to us in slow motion and seemed unreal until we read details in the next day's newspaper and heard a broadcast of President Roosevelt telling Congress that that day would live in infamy as he declared a state of war with Japan.

Why, then, did that unseen war affect our lives so much more deeply than the 24/7 images and endless words about Iraq, which nevertheless is sliding out of the national consciousness now day by day?

World War II was everybody's war. It would be fought by our fathers, sons, husbands, brothers and those of the people next door and down the block. I was 17 then, but in little more than a year, I knew I would be among them.

We were all in it together, and every night at 8:55, we turned on our radios for the only news most of us were able to get.

If we had been told then we would be called "The Greatest Generation," we would have wondered what was unusual about doing what we had to do. It would have saddened us beyond tears if we knew that our children and grandchildren would ever have to fight and die when the nation's survival was not so clearly at stake.

It would have broken our hearts then, and it still does.

1 comment:

Watch 'n Wait said...

Yes, it still does. I remember that day well.