He didn't really want to go to war.
He had a good job that paid him almost $35 a week. He could afford to buy a car (used), he could afford to get married and have a family. Perhaps within five or six years he'd be able to buy a house and raise his own vegetables and fruit. His wife could harvest and can these goodies and they'd have enough to get through the winter and share with their neighbors.
After all, his boss liked his work and he might get a couple of raises by then.
He enjoyed listening to the radio, dancing, reading the newspaper and playing cards and Monopoly with his friends and family.
He played softball and hardball in the summer, went ice skating in the winter. It wasn't any trouble to walk to the city park for these free things. After all, it was only five blocks. And he liked to play his trumpet (although Mom didn't to want hear it in the early morning).
He knew about the war in Europe, but that was their problem and they should solve it themselves. Europe was an ocean away, after all.
One winter Sunday morning, after he had eaten breakfast and read the newspaper (comics first), his Dad, as usual, turned on the radio to hear a newscast.
What? What did that announcer say? Something about a place called, um, Pearl Harbor, wherever that was.
The family listened, intently now, as they heard about a vicious sneak attack on an American Naval Base. Death and destruction rained down on a peaceful island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
The newscaster told of fires, ships being sunk, bodies of Americans floating in the roiling, oil covered waters. Of civilians, as well as service men, strafed by airplanes.
The newsman's voice was relatively calm, although it broke in mid sentence many times, and he could hear the tension, the horror, the almost disbelief, as the man's voice filled the silent kitchen.
His older brother's eyes met his. Without a word they agreed that they would have to do something about this ghastly event.
He didn't see the look that passed between his mother and father. His two sisters were in shock.
They all listened in silence for aother half hour. His father spoke. "It's time to get ready for church." Silently they all got up and prepared for the service. Shaving, he thought about, but could not voice his outrage and anger. That would come later.
At church, the congregation chattered among themselves until the preacher asked them, several times to be silent.
He apologized for changing the scheduled sermon and asked all of to join him in singing "For Those In Peril On The Sea". After the song, he asked the assemblage to pray for those who had been wounded or killed in the cowardly attack. And then he asked them to pray for those who would fight in the inevitable war.
The young man didn't really hear anything else the preacher said. He could only see the redness of pure fury. His mind locked on killing those weasel Japs.
The only Japanese he knew had a fruit and vegetable store a block from his home. He didn't consider them enemies. Hell, they were friends and neighbors and Americans.
When the family arrived home, his other two brothers, their wives and two other sisters were waiting in the living room. They hadn't needed keys. Mom and Dad rarely locked the front door when they went out, except at night when they went to bed. The four young men (well, Earl was 36 and Albert was 30) spoke for a long time about enlisting in the army and fighting Japs.
Mom and Dad didn't want them to go to war. They were afraid for their children.
But all four of them stood in the enlistment office line the next day.
The eldest son, Earl, was told he would not be accepted because he was a machinist and would be needed to help make the weapons of war. The next (Albert), was told he wouldn't be accepted because he was needed in his executive position in City Hall. The two youngest were accepted immediately.
Of these two, one would be killed over Germany when the bomber he was piloting was destroyed. The youngest one taken prisoner by the German Army and managed to survive imprisonment. He died sixty years later.
One of the sisters joined the women's Army Corps and was honorably discharged after the war ended.
Two of the other sisters went to work in defense plants and the other raised a fine group of children (seven plus one adopted).
To my loyal, American loving forebears, I salute you on your day.
I watched the Arlington Cemetery ceremony on TV this morning. The Presidential Seal was conspicuous on podium. George W. Bush did not show up for it. Remember him? The guy whose daddy got him out of a shooting war. Richard Cheney stood in for him.
I am disgusted with Dubya.
There a couple of poems by men who were at Pearl Harbor in the header.