A Day that will Live in Infamy

Boyhood memories recall his perspective of war on the home front.

| January 2021

Mother sent me to get Dad from the barn. A special radio program was coming on that we needed to hear. She put on a pot of coffee, as it was cold out, and tended to my little brother, Don. We gathered around the old wooden upright Victor radio, crackling with static and noise.

People all over the U.S. — like these visitors at a Washington, D.C., hotel lobby — dropped what they were doing to listen to radio accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Photo by Herbert E. French. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, sinking several ships and killing hundreds of Americans. We sat in silence as the reports went on and on. I was 8 years old, unable to fathom what was happening but somehow realized our world was going to change. I became scared.

Dad and Mother started talking, mostly wondering what would happen next. I think the first thing they discussed was Dad’s age of 39 years. Would he be too old for the draft? Then they talked about Uncle CB and Uncle Roy, who were still in their twenties. Then they discussed the number of young neighbors age 18 and up; all would be eligible for the draft. Realizing finally that Dad was too old for the coming war, I somehow knew we would all survive.

Even child’s play took on a different look

Children were eager participants in war-era scrap drives.
Image courtesy Library of Congress.

Youths were not prepared to foresee all the changes grownups would see. No doubt America was safe from bombing and destruction. I never believed we might be fighting on the farm, but was reminded by each daily news reel that the war was going on.


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