On a peaceful December morning in Pearl Harbor Hawaii the quiet was interrupted by an attack on the US Navy and Airfields.
All of the Pacific Fleet battleships were moored in the harbor that morning, a rather unusual event. Only one ship was missing (undergoing a refit).
When the attack began at approximately 8 a.m. local time, the band on the USS Nevada was playing "Morning Colors." Immediately men rushed to their battle stations.
Within fifteen minutes of the attack, the USS Arizona was sunk and the USS Oklahoma had capsized and their war was over before it began. The officer of the USS Nevada knew they could suffer the same fate if they didn't get away from the ammunitions barge. They already had boilers running (another fortunate event) so they made a run for it, the ONLY battleship to get underway during the attack.
The Japanese airplanes turned their attention to the escaping ship. The crewman maneuvered her toward the mouth of the harbor, but knew if they sank, it would block the opening. Therefore, they intentionally ran her aground on Hospital Point.
The men of the USS Nevada became the most decorated with multiple Navy crosses and two Congressional Medals of Honor for their performance during the battle.
The next day (December 8, 1941) President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a short speech which began: "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- 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."
He then asked Congress for a declaration of war which they passed almost unanimously. Only one member, Jeanette Rankin (R) Montana voted against it because, “As a woman, I can’t go to war and I refuse to send anyone else.” She knew it was political suicide, but she voted her conscience anyway.
WEEPING WOMEN SPRINGS
On December 7, 1941 many US citizens weren't even aware of where Pearl Harbor was, after all Hawaii wasn't even a state yet. When word of the attack was broadcast, the first response of many people was "Where's Pearl Harbor?"
My book, Weeping Women Springs begins on the Homefront in a fictional Arizona town where they hear news of the attack.
The door at the end of the gym burst open and little Eddie Frolander ran inside. “The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor!” he shouted. “Melvin’s dad heard it on his radio.”
Everything went silent, all but the bouncing ball echoing through the gymnasium. The players surrounded Eddie and everyone began talking at once.
“Where’s Pearl Harbor?” Maxine asked me.
“I don’t know,” I answered. We climbed down the bleachers to join the players.
Nine-year-old Eddie’s words tripped over one another. “I dunno any details, but Mr. Bracht said to tell everyone. He said we might be at war and spread the word.”
“War.” The word was murmured repeatedly through the crowd.
“Pearl Harbor is in Hawaya. The president said they bombed the navy base there.” Eddie’s dark hair fell over his eyes.
Maxine rushed over to Billy and he threw a sweaty arm around her shoulders. At that moment, I longed for a shoulder to lean on too.
Donnie Frolander, Eddie’s older brother, sidled up to me. “If we’ve been attacked, what will it mean?”
“Surely the president will tell us what to do.” I said. “President Roosevelt has seen us through a lot already.”
“Maybe we ought to head over to Mr. Bracht’s house,” Billy suggested.
“The Council was mad when Mr. Bracht bought a battery radio last year,” Donnie said. “But maybe this is a good reason to have a radio in town. Imagine if we didn’t find out until Tuesday when Tularosa comes to play the game. Boy, would we look dumb.”
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