Friday, December 7, 2012

The Day That Changed The World

There are three dates that stand out in the memories of those of us who were born before 1930: December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001. Most of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the horrible news of the events that happened on those days. Today is the 71st anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The following reminiscence of my personal experience may not mean anything to my younger readers, but it is important to me.
It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts-for democracy.

The first Sunday in December was warm for the season. Our family had planned for it to be a special day, but little did we know just how special it would turn out to be.
We were having one of our occasional family gatherings at my Grandparents’ farm. Since we got together only a few times a year, this would be a very exciting day. My parents and I didn’t often get to see Uncle Ross and his family, Uncle Ralph, and Aunt Dorothy and her family (cousin Dale was only a toddler, a little over two years old).
As usual, Grandma had made far too much food, including a roast turkey and a baked ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, a sour salad (Grandpa always liked something sour with every meal), and pie and cake for dessert. The wonderful odors alone literally made my mouth water. As the saying goes, the table was groaning with all the food, and by the time the meal was finished, so was everyone at the table.
There was no running water in the house, but the kettle had been put on the coal stove before we sat down, and by the time the table was cleared, the water was hot, so Grandma set out the dish pan and the ladies quickly finished the cleaning up of the dishes, pots and pans.
The men sat around talking and joking until my father turned to the radio sitting between the door to the summer kitchen, and the window overlooking the now dead looking flower garden.
The radio was one of the new floor models with not only AM (regular) broadcast bands, but also several short wave bands, through which we could listen, but not talk, to police and airline calls as well as amateur radio operators throughout the world. For some reason that was not too clearly understood at that time, these bands usually worked best at night, but on this day they were working very well during the daylight hours.
We had listened to some amateurs for only a few minutes when a lady’s voice broke in very excitedly, saying, “Will you please get off the air! This is an emergency! The Japanese are attacking Pearl Harbor!”
As the grownups all gathered around, we quickly switched to the AM broadcasts in order to get the latest news. My father said, “This means we are at war.”
Since I was only twelve years old, I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation, although I knew something important was happening. The next day I listened to the radio as President Roosevelt addressed the Congress. I can still hear him say, “I shall ask the Congress to declah that a state of wah has existed between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan.”
It was truly the day that changed the world.


My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and "The Spirit Runs

Through It" are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

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