There’s only a handful of dates in our country’s history that one can say there was a “before” and an “after”. A date that totally transformed the country.
A few years ago, I read the voluminous biography of Charles Lindbergh. As the family gave access to this author Lindbergh papers, I think it was the definitive biography of him.
And one theme that became obvious was how polarized America was before December 7th, 1941.
The times today are certainly not unique.
Lindbergh was a major spokesman for the America First Committee, and a thorn in Roosevelt’s side. Millions of Americans wanted nothing to do with intervening in a war, either in the Pacific or Europe. And they listened to Charles Lindbergh who had a superstar status.
December 7th, 1941 transformed American opinion. The America First Committee dissolved 3 days later.
Like so many others, my late father left his third year at UCLA and enlisted in the Army a few months later.
While he was a very introspective man and told me little of his life, I had thought he was at the stadium when he heard the news. But the 1941 UCLA football schedule had them playing USC at the Rose Bowl the day before. Maybe they were still celebrating at his fraternity house, although it was a 7-7 tie. And it was only 9-10 in the morning by the time the news got to California. Maybe add an hour to those times as the news traveled a bit slower in those days.
My mother, at her first year at West Virginia University, was having lunch in the cafeteria.
Point is, like my remembering November 22, 1963, everyone from that generation remembers where they were that December day.
And for most of us, September 11, 2001.
An interesting thing I learned the other day is that the commander of Pearl Harbor, Husband E. Kimmel, replaced his predecessor, James O. Richardson, because Richardson vehemently disagreed with Roosevelt over the placement of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt moved their base from the west coast as a deterrent to the Japanese.
Our Lex had some beautiful posts about this day, and I wanted to provide our newer readers with some of those links:
Yesterday December 8, 2003
Forgive, if you will December 7, 2005
Pearl Harbor December 7, 2006
Pearl Harbor Day December 7, 2011
The next day, Franklin Roosevelt gave one of his most memorable speeches in declaring war on Japan:
Our world fundamentally changed that day.