February 21, 1942. In the midst of news regarding the worsening situation in the Pacific, there also came word of drastic measures being taken over the question of Japanese-Americans living anywhere near the two U.S. coasts.
In a move many considered questionable, but which many more deemed necessary as a measure of precaution over what was feared to be an imminent invasion of the West Coast of the U.S. by Japanese forces. Legislation was passed, effectively removing anyone of Japanese ancestry, no matter how long they had lived in the U.S. or how long they were U.S. citizens, and relocating them away from what were considered crucial areas of national security.
Feeding the flames of this hysteria was the pending release of a report from the Dies Committee (precursor to House Un-American Activities), outlining alleged spy activities taking place on the West Coast by Japanese Americans who were sympathetic to Tokyo.
And even though the story was situated in the middle of the regular Washington report, given after a similar-themed report from Hawaii, it passed by with not much concern or question.
But there was other news taking precedence that day – news of the situation in Java and Burma. News regarding the Philippines and the fate of Gen. MacArthur. A report from Hawaii, while trying to stay upbeat, indicated that it was probable Japan was preparing some invasion of the U.S. and that Hawaii was preparing to be the first line of defense. Because of that, the report indicated Hawaii had been under strict Martial law ever since December 8. Meaning, a total blackout from dusk to dawn, major curfews and complete prohibition had taken over the island. In addition, strict rationing and controls were put in place.
After the newscast was a special report by reporter Martin Agronsky from Sydney Australia, giving the lastest developments in the Pacific, further confirming what was shaping up to being a dismal day in the War.
All that and a lot more for this February 21, 1942 – as reported by NBC’s News Of The World.