Category Archives: Memory

December 7

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FDR’s address to the nation:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Confederate Memorial Day

I was going through some Harristorian archival video footage today and came across this: the Confederate Memorial Day commemoration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.  This is from a couple of years back but the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy hold the ceremony every May. The video (a shade over four minutes) is worth the watch. A few of the participants make some very interesting observations.  By the way, the event is not advertised. According to to one representative, the UDC did not want any unfriendlies attending. I inquired about this (naturally) and she said, “the neighborhood has gotten a little dark…if you know what I mean.”

True story. And yes…I knew what she meant.

With compliments,


What to do at a Civil War Battlefield

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 12.38.40 PMMost people (read: tourists) tend to stay on the marked paths, follow the pre-programmed audio tours, or drive by, stop, read the signage, and move on. Want to have some fun? Seek out someone who knows the field (the NPS can most certainly arrange something for you) and ask to go off the beaten path. Seek out the rarely seen, the unusual, the forgotten. Visit the field during off hours or during the non-tourist seasons. I’ve done this all of these things myself and I have had quite the time. I have had the Shiloh and Perryville battlefields to myself, I have been to places at Gettysburg that only experts on the battle could ever hope to find. Do it. It will be worth the extra effort. And if all else fails, you can just stand by a cannon and point. This has been a battlefield tradition for over a century.

With compliments,


Poor July 5th.

il_fullxfull.356753869_6lioThe 5th of July is such a sad little day. Independence day is a tough act to follow – what with the revelry and fireworks and all. Many of us spend the day cleaning up a red white and blue mess – or we just take it easy while “recuperating” from the previous day’s festivities. I am pretty sure the signers of the Declaration of Independence were nursing some pretty serious hangovers. I mean, they had just committed high treason…I can think of no better reason to dip excessively into the Rattle-Skull.

Though we Americans may not find it as interesting a day as the one preceding, July 5th has its high points here and around the world. For example, July 5th is Venezuela’s independence day, marking it’s separation from Spain in 1811. On this day in 1954 Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right,” and thus proceeded to gyrate into rock and roll stardom. On July 5th, 1946, postwar Parisians caught glimpse of their very first bikini. Hello. On this day in 1975 tennis player Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win at Wimbledon and finally, Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first animal cloned from adult cells, was born on July 5th, 1996.

So maybe July 5th is not such a sad day after all – there’s lots to think about…lots to commemorate.

With compliments,


The Los Angeles National Cemetery Prepares for Memorial Day

IMG_1730This past Saturday, I spent a few hours at the Los Angeles National Cemetery volunteering – with about a zillion Boy Scouts from the LA area and a couple of my students – readying the grounds for Memorial Day exercises to take place Monday. Our duties included placing a US flag at every soldier’s grave. This was a rewarding as well as sobering experience and I recommend it for anyone who should ever get the chance to participate.

The Scouts did an outstanding job and the proceeding ceremonies were complete with words offered by celebrity WWII veteran Jimmy Weldon (this is LA, after all). I was most impressed with the number of young people in attendance representing the vast diversity of the Los Angeles area. I overheard many a conversation concerning the origins and meaning of Memorial Day and left a little more confident that at least some of the younger generation carry with them a historical consciousness.

Below are a few pictures – I just snapped these candidly as walked through the crowd.

With compliments,


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