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Dec. 8, 1941 editorial: War!

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Pearl Harbor At 75

In this Dec. 7, 1941 photo made available by the U.S. Navy, a small boat rescues a seaman from the USS West Virginia burning in the foreground in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after Japanese aircraft attacked the military installation. 

Editor's Note: The following is the editorial that appeared in the Dec. 8, 1941, Decatur Herald and Decatur Review: 

WAR has broken upon America; war, an inexpressible, unimaginable horror. We cannot in this first moment of surprise and chaos pretend to see the end. The first Japanese bomb that burst over American boys sleeping in their barracks without suspicion of attack ended one epoch of American history, and opened another which waits ahead of us, darkly.

That same Japanese bomb exploded into oblivion all the isolationists, all the public and private personages who have been trying to sabotage American defense during the last two years. From beginning to end, they assumed that the people of the United States were free to choose war or peace. Keeping their eyes upon Europe, talking about irrelevant things, hating our own government more than they hated Hitler, they obstructed every administration move for defense.

Watch now for our mis-representation from Illinois, Senator Brooks, Congressman Stratton, Congressman Day, and all their ilk crawl for the bomb shelters. Watch for the sudden retreat and about-face of our newspapers who hated their own government so much, they over looked the designs of our enemies. Watch for the curious acrobatics of the so-called “America First” committee.

All these things, reminders of tragic errors that we have struggled with in the last months, are secondary to the fact that hundreds of American boys already are dead, by an act of ruthless aggression.

War has been brought to us. President Roosevelt did not make it. The American people has never been so reluctant to enter war, or even to accept necessary defense measures, as in the recent past. No American wanted anything that is Japan’s. Safe from attack by us, the Japanese pretended to negotiate while they prepared a deadly raid upon our people.

They have inflicted the first loss; they will claim the first victory. Their further attacks will be reinforced by Hitler in the Atlantic, in so far as he is able to strike at us. There stretches before us, a struggle of years, not of months, because all of the reactionary powers of earth for the first time are united against us. We must steel ourselves for sad reverses, for incalculable sacrifices. In the end, however, we shall triumph and keep our civilization intact. The power that fires the first shot may do some preliminary boasting. We shall fire the last one.


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