Some days will never be forgotten.
We were approaching year’s end, and people were making preparations for the coming Christmas holiday. Conflict was raging in Europe, and German troops were laying siege to Leningrad and appeared poised to take Moscow. We were giving materiel support to Britain and the Soviet Union, and our navy was engaged in something like a cat and mouse game with German submarines in the North Atlantic. Otherwise, the nation was at peace. Following the fall of France in the summer od 1940, the United States’ government had become seriously alarmed; and some measures had been undertaken to prepare us for the possibility of war. However, war was the furthest thing from most people’s minds in early December of 1941.
On Saturday, December 6, I went with my parents to Wilmington, North Carolina, to witness the launching of the first Liberty ship to be built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. It was part of the war readiness effort initiated by the Roosevelt Administration. The following morning we attended worship services at Carolina Beach Community Church, after which we travelled to Wilmington again to see a newly released movie, The Great Dictator, starring Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard. I laughed with the rest of the audience as Chaplin portrayed a Hitler-like figure as a maniacal buffoon working alongside a ridiculous Mussolini-like sidekick in the person of Jack Oakie. It was great fun.
As we left the theater and proceeded toward our car, we saw some friends from the beach sitting in their parked automobile. They waved to us and told us that they had just heard on the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
Myfirst thought was, “Where in the heck is Pearl Harbor?”
For me, that’s how it began.