December 7, 1941 – The day of Infamy, as it came to be known. The Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor was the first of what would become many attacks by Japanese forces throughout the Pacific on this day. And as news of damage and casualties began filtering in, so too were reports of other attacks and invasions being staged. From Singapore came news that Japanese forces had landed at the British colony, but were repulsed. News from Thailand and Manila in The Philippines told of air raids and intense fighting. A wave of near-panic that, just possibly the attack on Hawaii was prelude to an invasion of the U.S. mainland.
The sudden change in everything – how Washington was now on a war footing and that Army sentries were given machine guns, and that check points were set up throughout the city. How cities were gearing up for war, including calling up all air-raid wardens to begin round-the-clock preparation for any aerial attacks.
News of the anticipated Declaration of a State of War, which President Roosevelt was slated to give the following day at noon.
And even with all that, the news and the severity of the moment was still sinking in. Urgent news bulletins were monopolizing the air, in between dance music. There was no 24 hour news – reports were broadcast as they came in, but between all that was an attempt at business-as-usual.
Broadcasts on this day were switching back and forth from coast to coast. Reports on reactions in San Francisco, a city with a very large Asian population – what was going to happen in the coming days?
No one knew for sure. All members of the armed services were called to duty – the street clothes would be hung up for the duration and replaced by Khaki and Navy Blue.
So, to get an idea or to attempt to offer some flavor of a crucial day in history that no one knew how was going to turn out at the time, here are 15 minutes of bulletins and reports broadcast later on that day of infamy, December 7, 1941.