December 7, 1941 – News from NBC – Bulletins and interruptions – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Historically, and for the past 81 years known as the Day Of Infamy, the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as well as sweeping attacks and landings on several points in the Pacific, created a state of confusion throughout America, as was evidenced by this first series of reports, via NBC Radio. Switching back and forth between the East and West coasts along with interrupted telephone reports from Hawaii as well as rumors and borderline panic over alleged sightings of Japanese planes heading for the West Coast – the sinking of American ships by Japanese submarines as close as 600 miles from California, gripped America and sent most people from passive misunderstanding to borderline hysteria over the first several hours. It was America under attack as it had never happened before.
I have posted several accounts and reports as well as bulletins throughout that day in various previous posts over the past few years – you can click on the links to hear them. Put all together they spelled a seemingly endless day; one that stretched into weeks as the early days of World War 2 unfolded with uncertainty not knowing how this would end – what terrible turn of events was going to happen next. This isn’t World War 2 seen from hindsight, knowing how it was all going to end, it’s World War 2 as it was happening minute-by-minute, where it was impossible to predict any outcome. And all there was to go on were reports and assurances that things were not as bad as they seemed.
Possibly the closest to that feeling of the unknown in recent times must be the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center – when we had no idea what would be unfolding over the coming days. That feeling in the collective pits of our stomachs that there was something happening which we had no control over and that it very possibly could end very badly was all we knew at the time.
Take that feeling and apply it to this December day in 1941 and you’ll get some idea what America was going through as the entire nation sat by their radios, wrung with anxiety and piqued by fear that December 7, 1941 was the beginning of the vast unknown.
Here’s a 45 minute sample of what America was going through on December 7, 1941 as presented by NBC.
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