a date that will live in infamy

In January I mentioned that I was undertaking a new "PROJECT." I have been collecting stories from Brent's Grandma Pat, in the hopes of writing some down. I've always envisioned this to take shape in first person, but I feel like it's almost blasphemy to try to embody such a wonderful person. I've only
recorded one story on my blog, HERE. And I'm going to try to change that. So on this gloomy-trying- to-be-spring day, I wanted to write about how I envisioned her listening to FDR's speech declaring war in 1941. She shared that they were ushered into the Study Hall to listen to the President's address, but that it didn't really register with anyone.


As a freshman girl who had read nearly every book in my small school's library, I was a little surprised there was a place I had not heard about. But ever since yesterday the teachers and everyone at Clarence Pickard's grocery store, and I'm assuming at his brother's grocery store up the street, were sloshing the word "Pearl Harbor" around in their mouths.

My brown curls bounced about my shoulders as I followed my classmates up the stairs to study hall where every student in the building was being herded. I spotted my friend Meredith, one year my senior, and made my way to her. Before I could say anything we were hushed to silence and the familiar crackling of the radio was turned up a little louder.

And then I heard our President's voice, a slight pop in the speakers. I remembered his voice well, having spent some evenings washing dishes while listening to his fireside chats on our small, brown radio. But here, in the crowded study hall room, President Roosevelt seemed to be coming at us from all sides.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941-- a date that will live in infamy-- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked…

I nudged Meredith, raising my eyebrows and pointing to the radio, as if to say, "Infamy? Where is Pearl Harbor?" She shrugged her shoulders at me and we leaned in to hear the rest.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. 

This all seemed so distant; so far removed from my little life in U. Star, Missouri. If I would have looked directly into my math teacher's eyes though, I would have seen the trepidation they held.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japan Empire. 

And then the radio broadcaster came back on. The president hadn't even talked for ten minutes. Low rumblings began on the outskirts of the room and slowly rippled their way throughout: conversations about Christmas break and number 14 on the math assignment.

Our principal stood up and told us we were to report back to the class we had just left. And with that I followed the small throng of high school students, shorter than everyone not just because I was a freshman but because I was a Woolery. As my hand found the banister and I headed back down the stairs, I thought briefly about those poor people in Hawaii that must be scared about what this attack meant for them. I was glad it was far away, and that I would never know the underpinnings of war.

And as I crossed the threshold into my science class, I walked past the desks of two boys who, in their righteous might, would be strapping on uniforms in a couple years.

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russ said...

Kels, Those accounts must be saved. More please. I regret to inform you that as a foolish young man I failed to get my dads and my uncles first hand accounts of WWII.

Joan said...

Thank you so much for this beginning of many, I hope.