Good evening everyone. This just came across the wire. I remember this day. A very horrific crime.
Over half a century ago in a small town in western New York this place was a Mom and Pop store. It was a pillar of the town. The family was great, friends of mine.
Through the years, attrition, the store closed.
Recently the building was sold and totally remodeled. It’s now a pizza parlor, bar. They did an excellent job with it. Early Wednesday morning I was going through the town and took this picture!
My ex-in-laws were at Pearl Harbor on that “Day of Infamy.”
My ex-mother-in law wrote about her experience so her daughter who was 9 months old at the time would know what it was like.
When she finally got to leave Hawaii for the mainland they spent a month aboard a ship from Hawaii to the east coast.
Here is what she wrote:
December 7, 1941
Indelibly Etched in My Mind
by Margaret Huey
Each year around December seventh, countless individuals recall, with unerring detail, exactly what they were doing when the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred. For those of us who were there, the events of that and succeeding days are indelibly etched in our minds.
I was twenty years old, the wife of a Marine Corps Lieutenant, and mother of a five month old baby girl, Kay. Today, I am seventy, wife of the same Lieutenant, now a retired Colonel, mother of seven children and grandmother to sixteen. The fifty year old memory is as vivid in my mind as if it happened last Sunday.
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, my husband had taken our 1940 Ford and driven the fifteen miles from our home in Honolulu to the base at Pearl Harbor. He was to assume his post as Duty Officer of the Day, beginning at eight o’clock.
I left Kay with my neighbor, Amy Jean, wife one of my husband’s classmates, to attend mass. She was alone with her 15 month old son, Tommy, as her husband was on Midway Island. I walked the nine blocks to Waikiki Avenue to church for the seven thirty mass. At approximately seven fifty-five the mass was interrupted by noise which was reminiscent of the finale of a Forth of July fireworks display. The priest intuitively knew something was wrong. He gave us a quick blessing and told us we could leave but to proceed in the manner of a fire drill. Everyone was stunned but there was no panic. With God’s blessing, I wanted to return home as quickly as possible, but had no car.
I had put all my change in the collection plate and entered a phone booth in hopes someone had forgotten to pick up a nickel from the coin return slot. I found it empty. I dumped the contents of my purse on the floor. Luckily I found a nickel to make a call to Amy Jean. She tried to assure me everything was okay, saying the disturbance was nothing more than maneuvers off Sand Island. I looked at the sky and saw it peppered with flack and large gray puffs of smoke from anti-aircraft guns. I begged her to bring the babies and pick me up.
She arrived with the babies and a neighbor, a sailor who had come home for shore leave Saturday, December 6th. His ship was the U.S.S Arizona. She felt if there was trouble, we could take him to his ship.
The Hawaiian National Guardsmen were on the streets and the traffic was getting horrendous. We drove as far as Hickam Field, near the prison, when a guardman told us we could go no further. I argued saying my husband was Lt. Huey and Duty Officer of the Day at the Marine Corps Base. “Lady,” he shouted, “I don’t care if he is Admiral Dewey, you cannot proceed. This is war! I am sure he will be busy all day.” He told us to drive the car into the old sugar cane field to our right and take cover. He instructed our neighbor, the sailor, to go with him, joining other sailors in a truck to Pearl Harbor.
We sat in the car with our babies and wondered what would happen next. We were not afraid, only angry we could not proceed to Pearl Harbor, or go home. We had the car radio on and all stations were broadcasting, “This is not a drill, this is war! Stay in your homes.” Requests were being made for motorcycles, delivery trucks and ambulances. Doctors and nurses were told to report to their hospitals.
Within a few minutes, army trucks, filled with soldiers, were proceeding from Hickam Field to Pearl Harbor. They seemed like a happy lot, yelling and waving. It was like watching a parade. They too knew little of what they would see at Pearl Harbor.
Not far from us, about two city blocks, a plane descended and strafed some cars. We could see the red ball markings and knew it was not our plane. In truth, we did not know whose plane it was. We saw more coming and, for the first time, we were scared. Funny how one automatically ducks when something flies overhead. We soon raised our heads to see what was happening. We saw very little except for the large black puffs of smoke. The sound of bombs was deafening.
It was one o’clock before we were able to leave. The exodus from the sugar cane field was like traffic pouring out of a parking lot after a world series game. The return to Honolulu was very slow. We had to take many detours through the city as the streets were closed. King Street and Waikiki Avenue were closed. We lived just off of Waikiki Avenue. The traffic was so heavy that I did not really see any damage. The policemen, almost like a broken record, said, “keep moving”.
It was after three in the afternoon when we finally arrived home. The babies were starving and crying. We were physically and mentally exhausted, but filled with that natural supply of adrenaline which accompanies fear. When I went home, I found a bullet had, at sometime, entered the corner of the living room and lodged into the bedroom wall. This so unnerved me that I took Kay and went to Amy Jean’s to spend the night.
I could not get a call through to Pearl Harbor to find out about my husband. Amy Jean’s husband was on Midway. She was sure they had been hit too. We tried to call our families in the states but were told to keep the lines clear and stay off the phones.
Instructions from Civil Defense were repeated continually on the radio. We were to maintain total blackout and stay off the streets. If a light was needed, we were to cover a flashlight with blue paper or cloth.
We could think of nothing but the fate of our husbands. We tried to occupy our minds. We thought we should make some identification markers for the babies in case we should be separated if another attack should occur. I took a large strip of adhesive tape and printed Kay’s name, age blood type, address in the states and the fact that she was breast fed. I put it down the middle of her back, thinking she might possibly lose a leg or arm. I shivered at the thought and knew our attempts to put the fate of our husbands out of our minds was only being replaced with equally morbid thoughts.
We finally got the babies to sleep. We could not sleep. We crawled out of the bathroom window on to the carport roof to watch the red glowing skies and listen to the off and off explosions from the ships being hit in the harbor. In the distance it looked as though a forest was on fire. I remember thinking we were like cats on a roof, not afraid, but filled with curiosity.
While climbing out the window, the screen hit the back of my head and cut badly enough that I felt the hair sticking to my neck. We went back into the house to check the babies. I went into a closet and used a flashlight to see how badly I was cut. I was sure I needed a stitch or two, but we were not allowed on the streets. I applied a cold wet washcloth and returned to the roof to watch the glow from the fires most of the night. When we finally went to bed, we were still unable to sleep. The heavy trucks from Fort Ruger, three blocks away, thundered down our street throughout the night.
We were glad to see daylight and fully expected our husbands to come home. My husband finally returned on Tuesday, December ninth, at two thirty in the afternoon, in a jeep. He was wearing a steel helmet and a pistol was on his hip. For the first time I saw the career Marine I married. He brought home rolls of black tar paper to black out our windows. While working on a ladder covering the windows, I noticed he had a bad cut on his leg. He explained it happened while unloading ammunition boxes. One had fallen on his leg. I showed him the cut on my head. We both realized how lucky we were to have only superficial wounds.
We learned later in the day Amy Jean’s husband, and our sailor friend were safe. I did not realize how fortunate we all were until a few days later when I took a bus to King Street and saw hundreds of wooden coffins piled six feet high in front of mortuaries.
The following weeks were hectic. My husband put in long hours at the base. Amy Jean and I occupied ourselves building a bomb shelter, which was never more than three feet deep and could not accommodate more than one person, much less two women and two babies. It did keep us busy.
At the Punahou High School we were given gas masks and instructed how to use them. Babies were not given masks. Mothers were told to carry a washcloth and a bottle of boric acid solution for them. we were worried about what we would do if we had to wear masks when the babies had none.
My husband was sent to the Island of Palmyra, about a thousand miles southwest of Honolulu, on December 23rd, two days before Christmas. We were told to pack all of our personal effects for evacuation at a moment’s notice. I sold our 1940 Ford to Army Procurement for $650, and felt fortunate as others were getting about $250 for the same year on used car lots in Honolulu.
Kay spent her first Christmas and several succeeding months in a packing box lined with quilts as all of our furniture was packed for evacuation. We finally evacuated the ship to San Francisco in late March. I arrived in Washington, D.C.,on April 11, 1942, the day before my 21st birthday.
My sister lived in Indian Head, Maryland. She had saved their Christmas tree for Kay and me. I knew my nine month old daughter would remember neither the tree or Pearl Harbor, though I would all my life.
In the years that followed, every December 7th, Amy Jean and I talked to each other on the telephone no matter where we were stationed. On December 7, 1989, Amy Jean called from Bakersfield to say “Aloha dear friend.” Her cancer was in an advanced stage. She passed away December 28, 1989.
Amy Jean was a model of courage. She taught me to remain cheerful and hopeful in spite of adversity. I am grateful to have been with her.
Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy on the US of A’s naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the Monday after the attack:
“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.”
The attack on Pearl Harbor was the oomph that helped push the US into World War II on the side of the Allies. But it was not the only factor, there were many more as well.
Not only did the Japanese launch an attack at Pearl Harbor that peaceful Sunday morning, but that same day attacked Guam, Wake Island, The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Midway.
Eventually General Douglas MacArthur would utter the immortal words, “I shall return,” as he fled The Philippines as the Japanese occupied.
Thousands of American sailors and soldiers lost their lives that sleepy morning. Battleships still lie in rest in the harbor, the watery grave for American lives lost.
In recent years, commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day has seemed to fade. Perhaps in part it can be attributed to the fact that more and more of whom Tom Brokaw called, “The Greatest Generation“, die off. The memory of that tragic day begins to fade as well.
An article detailing 5 myths about Pearl Harbor at TwinCities.com from a few years ago noted:
The attack on Pearl Harbor awoke America from its isolationist slumber and bolstered its charge into the Pacific war, but it did not spur entry into the European war. That happened when Nazi Germany and fascist Italy declared war on the United States on Dec. 11, compelling Roosevelt to respond in kind – thus committing the United States to a world war.
From the Cornfield, I am hoping those who read this will stop and remember those sailors and soldiers whose lives were lost.
To “The Greatest Generation“, we salute your service, your action and how you kept the world “safe for democracy.”
It was a mild, sunny Friday afternoon in the Cornfield. As usual on a school day, I was sitting in Mrs. Smith’s 4th grade class. Thoughts of the upcoming weekend filled my mind with revelry.
The daydream, as Mrs. Smith droned on about Indiana history, came to an abrupt halt when the principal’s trembling voice came out of the wooden box mounted in the top center of the wall behind the teacher’s desk.
The halting voice, filled with sorrow, announced that our beloved President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been struck down by an assassin’s bullet and was dead. Mrs. Smith’s eyes began to tear. Shock was on her face.
The class seemed transfixed as if turned to stone by Medusa’s stare. One by one, starting with the girls in the class, weeping and crying took over.
The girl sitting next to me (I think her name was Sally) was bawling her eyes out. My 8-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend why Sally was crying.
I began to laugh at her and make fun of her, not understanding what the principal’s words meant. Mrs. Smith came over to chide me and explain in terms my immature mind could comprehend what had happened.
As she spoke, my laughter turned to tears as well.
My mind went back in time to that dark night in the parsonage in Anderson, Indiana where my Dad was pastoring, watching the black-and-white television and listening as President Kennedy demanded the Russians to remove the missiles from Cuba or risk all out war.
I recalled the Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev, taking his shoe off and pounding it on the table at the United Nations threatening to bury the United States in the ashes.
The man who had stood up to the red threat and made the Ruskies back down was dead.
The King of Camelot was dead.
His queen, Jackie, and the young princess and prince, Caroline and John-John, were left without a husband or father.
None of us rushed out of school, frolicking in the fall sunshine as we normally would with the weekend beckoning. With slow steps we made our way home.
Life was not the same.
Childhood was not the same.
The world stopped at 12:30 p.m. (CT) that afternoon in Dallas, Texas.
Over the next few days, not only did Americans mourn, but the peoples of the Earth lamented the loss of the Leader of the Free World. Even our enemies, the Russians and Chinese, expressed condolences and disbelief that JFK was gone.
A few days later on live television, I watched in horror as Jack Ruby, gun drawn, walked up to Lee Harvey Oswald, the President’s assassin, and shoot him dead. The police officers surrounding Oswald seemed to not see or did not care that the two-bit hoodlum Ruby had a gun out, pointed and walking quickly up to Oswald.
A half century later and another image that remains etched into my mind is that of a 4-year-old John-John in a short-pants suit standing smartly on Pennsylvania Avenue saluting as the horse-drawn wagon bearing his father’s casket came down the street, surrounded by a weeping throng.
The young prince was the picture of strength in time of trouble and hope in an hour of despair.
The fabric of the World was torn that day.
Life was changed for an entire generation.
The end of an era had come to a sudden and deadly halt.
Conspiracy theories continue.
The question of “What if?” still dominates the conversation when anyone pauses to remember that fateful November day.
From the Cornfield, that day is as real today as it was a life time ago.
Today is the anniversary of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s death at the hands of an assassin in Dallas, Texas. Across the Cornfield and across the nation, people are remembering the years of Camelot, when a young, charismatic politician stole the hearts of Americans.
At the time, though many throughout the nation still were at odds with the President on policy issues, he had managed to capture the people’s hearts as had his wife, Jackie, and children, Caroline and John-John. Speeches would denounce his politics and yes, even his religion, but would in the next breath extol what a determined, caring man and war hero JFK was.
A phrase which has become synonymous with the Kennedy years and the course of a nation was his appeal during his inaugural address on January 20, 1961: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
Today that concept, that idea, seems to be alien to many Americans and especially lost on most of our national elected officials.
The concept and its origin is steeped in debate. Some arguing it goes back a thousand years or more to Plato or Juvenal. Others cite President Warren G. Harding who made a similar statement to the Republican National Convention decades before. Others cite JFK’s former school headmaster.
No matter the origin, the sentiment of the line is rooted in a belief shared since the foundation of this great nation – the idea of individual responsibility, individual fortitude, individual enterprise and individual ingenuity to build and sustain a nation unlike any other before it.
Ronald Reagan voiced a similar sentiment with his quip that government is the problem and not the answer. Kennedy recognized this. Kennedy knew government was only as effective as the people and what the people were willing to do for themselves and for country.
While JFK in his “New Frontier” speech to the 1960 Democratic National Convention made known his desire to expand on the more social platform instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he also was a pragmatist who understood the need for the individual doing his or her part and not relying solely on taking from or asking for government to provide the solutions and answers.
That concept, that sentiment, appears so lost in the political climate of today. It is lost not just with the Democratic Party of which JFK is a legacy, but also with Republicans who are far afield of either Abraham Lincoln or Reagan.
From the Cornfield, as we remember Kennedy, let us once more look inward and say with him, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
And let it begin in the halls of Congress and in the White House.
Yes folks, in the roll-off business, (a form of trucking) we go many places and see many things in junkyards, landfills, and transfer stations. I saw this piece of history this week. I wonder how many songs were played on this old girl?
Today, we stop and give thanks for all those who have served the nation in uniform, protecting the freedoms we hold so dear. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in order to ensure that we have the life we so proudly proclaim.
Their sacrifice is honored with each election where not by coup, but by ordinary Americans casting a ballot and choosing those who will lead and represent them. The power and authority of those officials are transferred from one elected official to the next, from the precinct level to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, without the need for troops in the streets because of those who answered the call to duty, honor and service.
The ability to vote, the ability to choose, the ability to speak our minds, the ability to worship or not worship, the ability to write these words without fear, the ability to work, to succeed, to fail, to rise above our circumstances, all of this we owe to those men and women who fought for peace, justice and freedom.
None of our liberties came without cost and thus we owe a debt to each of our veterans and to those who still serve.
On a more personal note:
In those dark days following the sneak attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, four brothers from Nashville, Brown County, Indiana lined up at the recruiting office and joined the US Navy. These four brothers went off to save the world for democracy both in the European Theater and in the Pacific.
Three made it back home at the close of World War II. The one who didn’t return was my Uncle Homer. My grandfather and his other two brothers, Herman and Wesley, came home, but changed, never to be the same.
My step-father, a fresh-faced kid from Sullivan County, Indiana didn’t wait to be drafted. He went to the recruiting office and signed up to be a soldier for Uncle Sam. He survived, though wounded once, three tours in Viet Nam. He remained in the US Army to retire after 20 years as an E-8 First Sergeant.
My grandfather’s only son, my uncle, later followed in his father’s footsteps and sailed off on the ocean blue with the Navy. He served around the world, then came home.
All of these veterans within my own family are now gone, but not forgotten.
Their service made it possible for me to join the US Air Force in 1976. My time was spent at Grissom AFB, right here in the Cornfield.
It also allowed my step-brother, John Hollifield, a few years later to join the US Army. Unfortunately, we lost him in a drunk driving incident after he did his duty and was home.
The sacrifice of my grandfather, great-uncles and step-father also allowed all of us to still be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
This is why I am always appreciative of those who choose to serve in our military. This is why I always have an empathy and a connection to the families left behind to keep the home fires burning to shine the light to lead our service members home.
Each November 11th, we celebrate, not just the veterans of that long ago war that was to be the war to end all wars, but the holiday has evolved to celebrate and to show appreciation for all who have served our great nation and those who continue to serve.
From the Cornfield, veterans, I salute you and thank you!