Editor's Note: Last year, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Herald asked readers to submit their memories of that day. The following was published on Dec. 7, 2016.
In observance of the 75th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the Herald asked readers who had memories of that unforgettable day to share them. Following are what five Chippewa Falls residents recall of Dec. 7, 1941.
Mom was in tears
I was a 9-year-old girl and my mother had sent me for some items to a grocery store on the West Hill. I came home across the field between houses and and my mother was very upset and she was crying.
It was announced they had attacked Pearl Harbor. That’s the only part that stuck with me. That, and I still have two ration books with my name on.
— MaryAnn Armstrong
Delivering the news
On Dec. 7, 1941, in Barron, there was not a lot going on early in the day. I was 12 years old, had a Superior Evening Telegram paper route and was part of a family of two sisters and a brother, all younger than myself, and a pair of parents.
During our noon meal with the radio on, we heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. My dad was the only one with a comment: “The SOBs won’t last six weeks.”
Within the next week he went to Rice Lake and tried to enlist in the Army. They wouldn’t take him because he was 48 years old and had four kids at that time. He tried all of the other services and they wouldn’t take him. either.
— Jim Morrell
Delivering the news
I was 12 years old and lived on the southwest side of Chicago. It was Sunday afternoon and five of us decided to walk a half mile to the south side B&O railroad station to watch the streamliners come through. We did this sometimes and helped passengers with their luggage and would get tips.
While we were waiting for the first train to arrive, the station agent came running out and shouted that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and the war was on. We all rushed home to tell our parents. Unless they had the radio on, they wouldn’t have known. I was my parents’ first informer.
— Robert F. Jorsch
The silence and the look
Our family was around the radio listening to the Packers-Bears game after Sunday dinner. It was interrupted as President Roosevelt addressed the nation. (Incidentally, the Bears won.) The voice of Roosevelt still resonates in my head.
My brothers were 20 and 18 years of age, with the older one in college. I remember the silence, compared to the noise of the game, and the look — especially on my parents’ faces.
Within months, my brothers were “gone to war!” Both served in the European theater, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of France.
— Susan DeLong
Searching for why
I remember Dec. 8, 1941, listening to WCCO from Minneapolis on our RCA Victor radio in the living room when FDR stated, “a date which will live in infamy … the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” It was Monday afternoon. Dad and Mom sat in their soft chairs; six children were sitting or lying on the carpeted floor. It was a free day, a Holy Day of Obligation, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
I recall FDR’s cultured, stentorian voice, much different from our patois, his pronunciation of the word “again” as in “gain.” He asked Congress to respond to “the unprovoked and dastardly attack” by Japan on the United States. I ran to our Compton’s dictionary and looked for Japan, Wake, Midway, Guam, Pearl Harbor and Hawaii, the paradise where handsome natives rode colorful surfboards on giant combers to sunlit beaches.
Why did the Japanese attack our islands? No answers there or in our living room.
— Thomas Chisholm