What was unnerving on this particular day was that I had never before seen him cry, and in my eleven-year old eyes fifty years was very old to begin crying. It was Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the day that President Roosevelt said would “live in infamy”. The radio announcer on KIRO was reporting the sinking of our fleet in Pearl Harbor from Japanese bombers. Battleships Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona were sinking, and the death toll was mounting to over 2,000 sailors and flyers. With each new report Daddy’s shoulders seemed to slump more. That’s all I remember of the day. Even now, seventy years later, I can feel the qualms of bewilderment I felt that morning. It was probably ten years later before my sister shared the rest of the story.
It seems that about July of 1941 my sister, four years older, answered our home phone. The party on the other end asked for our father stating it was important: the President’s office calling. Roosevelt was worried about inadequate communication with Pearl Harbor and he was requesting that my father take his family and move immediately to Honolulu to establish a system of better communication between Pearl Harbor and the White House. Daddy shared all this with my sister but I guess I was too young to be consulted. He was torn between answering the call of his country and moving his children to what was then considered a foreign country. Heavy hearted, he declined, mostly for the benefit of my education.
Much historical data now released confirms that Roosevelt was indeed expecting the attack. The bombing of Pearl Harbor served as a means to get Congress to declare war in Europe, something that needed to happen. Perhaps it was scripted. Sadly my father was never to know the true facts, and with each new casualty report Daddy’s pain and guilt mounted. He felt personally responsible for each death.
He lived another four years before his heart gave out. In retrospect, he never quite seemed to regain his spirit.