12/7/41

I was eight going on nine and listening to one of the late afternoon kids’ programs of those times (Jack Armstrong, All American Boy?) when the announcement came that our fleet had been hit by a Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. I rushed to our kitchen to tell my parents.

We were particularly caught off guard as a Japanese delegation had been in Washington that week negotiating peace arrangements. Hitler and Mussolini soon joined the Japanese by declaring war on us. As most of our fleet’s aircraft carriers had been destroyed and the German subs were sinking ships in the Atlantic, we felt doubly exposed on both ocean flanks. Quickly an aircraft warning station was set up in our front yard (we lived on foothills of Avon mountain with a wide view to the West and I soon became an expert on war planes — ours and theirs — from models of same that were supplied that I put together. I became a teacher for adults on 2 hour shifts on how to report planes seen or heard to Washington. My father, as many businessman, took on an extra job in a factory nights — that practice was ended quickly as such were more nuisance than help.

We then mobilized for a war that for us ended a short 4 years later with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yes, we welcomed the atomic attack with revenge motivations that no longer respected civilians.

And so that war went.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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