December 7th Memories

It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who called December 7 “a date which will live in infamy” in his address to Congress the following day. Congress declared war against Japan and World War II began.

Also on that following day, Alan Lomax, head of the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song, asked colleagues across the nation to collect people’s immediate reactions to the bombing. People from all walks of life were interviewed over the next few days. Among the interviewees was a California woman then visiting her family in Dallas, Texas.

“My first thought was what a great pity that… another nation should be added to those aggressors who strove to limit our freedom. I find myself at the age of eighty, an old woman, hanging on to the tail of the world, trying to keep up. I do not want the driver’s seat. But the eternal verities–there are certain things that I wish to express: one thing that I am very sure of is that hatred is death, but love is light. I want to contribute to the civilization of the world but…when I look at the holocaust that is going on in the world today, I’m almost ready to let go…” Lena Jamison, “What A Great Pity,” December 9, 1941.

To read more of these “Man-on-the-Street interviews, go to


Published in: on December 7, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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