Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pearl Harbor - 70 Years Later

In the summer of 1941 battles for local boys were limited to being picked off between 1st to 2nd as a member of the East Hampton Bombers in the Middlesex County baseball league or factory and clerk league. That abruptly changed 70 years ago!  On Sunday Dec. 7th, the Japanese Fleet  attacked and destroyed much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor killing over 2,000 soldiers, sailors and marines.  I asked my dad what was it like that day. He recalled not hearing about Pearl Harbor until later that evening.  As done on most Sunday afternoons, he was watching the latest release at the EH Movie Theater on North Main Street (Cabinet Shoppe).   Ironically, there was little or no news.  Unlike today with immediate access to nearly any situation, storm, tragedy or military engagement, communication was a much slower and tedious process in the 1940s.  Reports came only through military channels on encrypted teletype.  The classified transmission required decoding and evaluation, then hand delivered  to appropriate officials such as President Roosevelt. The press would be summoned and radio networks (television did not exist) set up broadcasting equipment for a press conference or national address. Though suddenly catapulted into war, U.S. leaders had been preparing for the worst.  Since 1939 when Hitler's army brutally attacked Poland and rolled across Europe, there had become a growing anticipation that soon America would be drawn into battle.  The local news article on July 1, 1941, reported: 17 Young Men Register with Draft Board 34 -  Joseph Becker, Rev. John Dalhman, Gabriel Frontel, Frederick Galvin, Franklin Gates, Philip Goff, Walter Grant, William Hand, Stephen Hansuld,  Chandler Hicks, John Hicks, Norman Lapiene, Frederick Leonard, Harold Nichols, John Panonessa, Francis Sherman and Raymond Strong. As they had prepared for a July 4th celebration that year with picnics and baseball,  I'm sure the last thing on their minds was the upheaval about to unfold.

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