By Terry Weber
Article Word Count: 1841
I'll always remember the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Even now, seventy-two years later, I am still aware of the many ways that attack forced the "sleeping giant" that was the USA; to become today's major advocate of worldwide peace.

During the six years (1939 to 1945) of WWII somewhere between fifty and seventy-five million people were killed; major cities in Europe were reduced to bombed-out ruins; the citizens of the USA became patriotically united as never before and the first atomic bomb (Hiroshima, Japan, 8/6/45) was used to end the war and force Japan to its knees with an unconditional surrender. My personal life, and the lives of my family, classmates and people all over the world were changed forever.

I was in my early and very impressionable 'teens back then. During the four years of war following the Pearl Harbor attack, I found myself living through many major upsets, disruptions, loss of friends, family and teachers as well as many other hardships.

It was during those times when my tranquil and peaceful home life erupted into a very real bloody and unforgettable time of destruction due to the war. Our national life, as a peace loving American nation, was changed forever by the attack on Pearl Harbor that day.

I know, for sure, the four or five-hour attack at Pearl Harbor that started the war with Japan, actually continued on into the next four years on many of the Pacific islands. Those battles were always intensely ferocious, extremely costly in American lives and caused much suffering both there and at home.

On that Sunday in early December, I can vividly remember gathering with my mother, dad sister and two brothers in the living room in our home in Upper Darby, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia and listening to the voice on the radio as news of the attack on Pearl Harbor was excitedly announced to the nation. We all listened with rapt attention; amazement and stunned silence to those radio reports that told us about the more than two thousand American civilians and servicemen killed by that devastating, sneak Japanese attack on our naval base there. Many battleships and cruisers were literally destroyed and sunk right there in the harbor.

I was only fourteen years old at the time and I was in my last year of junior high school, the ninth grade. The next morning on Monday, a group of my classmates and I got together and walked down the neighborhood streets toward our school. We talked excitedly about all of the ways that attack in Pearl Harbor would change our lives from then on.

Soon after we arrived at school, we heard, from a loudspeaker in our homeroom, an announcement that said: "Classes are suspended this morning. All teachers and students are to attend a special meeting in the auditorium to hear what President Roosevelt is going to say during a special radio broadcast to the whole world."
After the president's speech, when, of course, he declared war, we all, students and teachers alike, realized our lives had suddenly changed - overnight - by what the Japanese had done to us in Pearl Harbor. We knew our lives would never be the same again.

From that time on, and for the next four long war-torn years we knew we were at war, in a battle for our very lives. It was a fight we had to win -fast! Our immediate focus, had to be on working together and very hard and doing everything we could to get back at the Japs (one of the mildest terms we used to describe the Japanese back then) for their deadly sneak attack on us. We needed everything: bigger armies, a bigger navy with thousands more ship, guns and airplanes.

All of the nation's automotive factories had to immediately change from making cars to making tanks and many other wartime vehicles. The aircraft makers had to get to work - night and day - to product thousands of aircraft. Men and women, who had previously been unemployed, had to get into uniforms and be trained for war as soon as possible. Rationing of gasoline, oil, food, and other materials needed for military use began to be put in place almost immediately.

In Pearl Harbor, we soon learned, that almost three thousand American sailors, soldier, marines and civilian had been slaughtered during the Japanese attack that Sunday morning!

It was now up to every patriotic American to do everything we could to work together as a team to defeat Japan and win the war, no matter what it would cost us in men, materials and energy.

I remember reading newspaper headlines that told about men who were standing in lines for many hours, lines that stretched out and around big city blocks, as they waited to enlist in the army, navy and marines so they could get into the fight to defend our land as soon as possible and to help the United States win the war.

My home was in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and near the Navy Yard, on the nearby Delaware River. There again, the daily newspapers and radio reporters told us about the thousands of men and women who were standing in line to get jobs in the Navy yards to help build hundreds of Navy ships as part of the war effort.

Later, at the start of 1942, there were local Air Raid drills and air raid sirens were set up in neighborhoods and tested. Our next-door neighbors became uniformed Air Raid Wardens to enforce the rules during the weekly blackout drills when all lights had to be turned off. We had to put blackout curtains on all of our windows.

After awhile, rationing boards were set up for things like: gasoline, oil, scrap metal, rubber tires, and butter and meat substitutes. Spam became a regular substitute for fresh meat. New automobile tires were not available anywhere and people whose tires were bald or worn-out had to have the old tires recapped and re-treaded or do without. All new tires went to the military. Synthetic rubber tires were not yet available.

Later, during my first years in high school I had to get an "A" gas ration sticker and put it on my old Model A Ford car's windshield. I was limited to a couple of gallons of gasoline per week.

It was a common occurrence, in my high school to see our teachers, men and women, leave school and volunteer to join the armed forces, some never to return. Most of our best, and youngest teachers left us that way. Then those teachers were replaced by retired teachers who volunteered to leave retirement and come back to teach classes again as a way of replacing the teachers who had gone away to war.

Around our neighborhoods we had many scrap drives to collect iron, aluminum and copper to be used in factories to build tanks, ships and aircraft to help fight the war.
While in high school, I changed my studies to what was called: a college prep courses. I did that so I'd be prepared to go to college and be able to contribute as best I could to help win the war with a better education.

I remember walking to school each morning with friends and seeing windows in our neighborhood decorated, proudly, with red, white and blue banners in the front windows. A blue star in the center of the banner meant that someone who lived in that family's home had gone to war. After a few months many of those blue stars were replaced with gold stars. The gold star meant the person who was in the armed forces had been killed in one of the bloody battles overseas.

My father volunteered to join the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and became one of the inspectors of incoming ships on the Delaware River. He did that all during the war.
In short, during those war years, from the time I was fourteen until I was seventeen the emphasis of myself and every one of my classmates was to get through school, join the armed forces and help win the war that was now raging far out there in the Pacific.

I could hardly wait to get out of school and into the military as soon as possible, but at that time I was just too young. I had to wait until I was at least seventeen years old before I could join up.

I remember the many War Bond Drive we had to raise money to help fight the war. I remember the local USO groups that were organized to help entertain soldiers and sailors in the nearby camps as well as those overseas. I remember hearing about Bob Hope's many, many USO trips overseas to entertain troops, along with some of the Big Bands of those years. Many of the girls in my high school class used to go to nearby army camps and navy bases to dance, on weekends, with the service men where they would talk with them and serve them doughnuts and coffee.

After I graduated from high school, at the age seventeen, in June of 1945, I immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy. There, I was soon scheduled to go to a Navy Aviation Gunners Mate school and I fully expected to be sent to the Pacific war zone, become a gunner in a fighter plane and do my part to shoot down enemy aircraft.

Then, while I was still in training for that job, the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and the Japanese signed an unconditional surrender document. The bloody Pearl Harbor attack that started the war with Japan on that December Sunday in 1941, was, finally, after four terrible hard fought years - over.

These days when I turn on the radio and hear an old recording of some of the music of the big bands of those war years playing songs like: There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover; Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy; Comin' In On a Wing And A Prayer; Der Fuhrer's Face; Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree; G.I. Jive; I Don't Want To Walk Without You; Praise The Lord An Pass The Ammunition; When The Lights Of On Again All Over The World and more, they bring back many old memories of those turbulent war torn times.

That was a time when the whole world changed. A time of terrible bloodshed. A time when patriotic Americans were united and worked together as never before or since. It was a time that changed my life and the lives of thousands of others.

I am now eighty-five (in 2013) and what happened back then, at Pearl Harbor seventy-two years ago on December 7th, 1941, I still see as a major turning point that has changed the course of both my life and that of the United States in a thousand different ways.

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Author's Bio: 

More About The Author, Terrance L. Weber
Now living in Cream Ridge, New Jersey (after Hurricane Sandy ruined their waterfront home in October, 2012), with his wife Doris. Terry is the author of eight eBooks. He is an award winning sales letter copywriter (DMAA, awards) and a Diamond Status (the best)writer and one of the top 20 writers (out of 400,000 world-wide writers) with He ran his own business for many years where he invented several office aids such as the Weber Denture Liners, Weber Wrist Wraps and several other inventions. He paints nautical scenes in oils and acrylics. He also carves and sculptures shorebirds. For about ten years Terry and Doris were active as volunteers with Habitat For Humanity as RV-Care-A-Vanners. They drove from build to build all over the USA in their 31’ RV for 2 week long volunteer builds where, as leaders of groups they helped to build about 31 houses for needy families. This is a hand-up not a handout program. New homeowners are taught by the Care-A-Vanners the basics of home maintenance. All of these new homeowners and their children are very grateful to finally have a home that they can call their own. Terry's books are readily available on both and
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