Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Off to War - December 1941

Typical holiday festivities changed abruptly after the attack of Pearl Harbor followed on Dec. 8th by a declaration of war after President Roosevelt made his memorable address to the joint Congress "this day in infamy.".  Although instituted during the prior year, the "draft" began calling men for active military duty.  After my last article, a dear friend, Rita Clark, called to talk about those days. She told me her brother Bill Clark and Francis O'Connell were the first two locally called to active duty and were to report for training somewhere in the Carolina's.  Rita's mother inquired as to where that was?  We forget how small our world has become as media take us live to interview troops in Afghanistan, see the wedding of a future British Monarch, or witness the stirrings of Democracy in Cairo or the overthrow of a dictator in Benghazi, Lebanon. Bye the way, Mrs. Clark was informed that where the boys were going, they wouldn't need snow shovels! Locally a Defense Council was formed to prepare our community should military attacks occur.  Harlan Hills, First Selectman, was appointed General Chairman with Teresa Valli our Town Clerk as Secretary; along with chief air raid warden, Howard Engel; fire protection, Merton Weir and Paul O'Connell (fire chiefs); police protection, Samuel Wallis, Roy Hallberg and Gustave Dotzauer.  (Notice no police chief participated?  EH didn't have a police department unitl 1963.); women's activities, Maude Clark and Mrs. Theodore Thomas; medical and health, Dr. Norman Gardner, transportation, Clement Wall and Reuben Ostergren, publicity, Albert Ellis, emergency housing, Meritt Cornwell; evacuation, Herbert Wall and Mrs. Samuel Wallis, volunteer defense bureau, Mrs. Paul Garvey; communications, Al Romane; welfare, Ruth Hopkins; nutrition, Mabel Colson; recreation, Ernest Olson; child day care, Mrs. Ralph Thatcher; and civil defense units John Kane and David Enegren.  If Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy and the US  can all become staunch allies, there is certainly hope for our future! I wish you and your families well and may this season of peace prevail.

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