December 8, 1941 – the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. News was moving quickly and while most radio outlets were trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy, the rapid bulletins and unfolding story made any sense of business-as-usual impossible.
The rumors persisted, the prevailing fear that Japan was going to launch some sort of attack on the West Coast of the U.S. had flooded news bureaus from Seattle to San Diego. Rumored sightings of Japanese bombers flying over San Francisco sent a wave of alarm up and down the West coast, while Police in New York were busily rounding up Japanese nationals who were living and working in the U.S. on the East coast. Casualty figures were rising, as the morning progressed. Eventually it would be disclosed some 300 military and civilian personnel had been lost during the Pearl Harbor attack. And an as-yet undetermined number of wounded were being reported.
News from Britain was reporting fresh attacks in Singapore and Thailand. Prime Minster Winston Churchill had finished addressing a meeting of Parliament. Declarations of war were coming in, anticipating President Roosevelt’s much anticipated Declaration later on in the day.
This was the state of things during the morning hours of December 8, as America geared itself for the business of all-out War. Armed Forces recruiting offices were jammed to overflowing with young men, all volunteering to join in the fight. Civil Defense workers were called up and told to report to their stations as quickly as possible. Washington D.C. was taking precautions, setting up barriers, arming Capitol Police with machine guns – sealing off the Capitol to passing traffic – everything in a heightened state of alert.
Here is an hour and seventeen minute capsule glimpse of that day – beginning around 2 in the morning New York time and going up to around 8:00 am, as America woke up to find itself at war, struggled to be normal but giving way to the shocking realities of War.