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The Day That Launched Our “Great Crusade”

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PearlHarbor

The news flash, clipped and abbreviated in the style of the Associated Press, moved over the wires on this day in 1941. What followed was both magnificent and horrible, and brought out the best and the worst in us.

News24/680 readers “of a certain age,” remember well the news that shocked and then galvanized a nation on this day 71 years ago. On the West Coast, people prepared for invasion by a nation who revered its leader as a deity and who struck without formal declaration of hostilities. Relatives living in Marin County at the time remember Coast Guardsmen armed with machine guns patrolling the beaches, sound trucks spreading the news and hourly developments to any who hadn’t heard, and suspicious glances cast at respected members of the community who, in one fateful moment, had suddenly become the enemy.

In the wrenching years that followed the attack on our island state, a nation of fathers, sons, uncles, and family friends left behind lives as schoolboys and shop clerks and galvanized themselves into a vengeful, driven armed force that would wage a destructive and costly war in the Pacific and take part in a Great Crusade through Europe and ultimately on into Berlin and Tokyo.

In the awful interim, those schoolboys and shop clerks would etch their names in history at places and crossroads and islands with names like Bastogne and Iwo Jima, Normandy and Okinawa, and a thousand other places with no names at all.

Here’s to all those who went, to those who paid for their victory in blood, but particularly to those who never came back and never got to march in the final victory parades.