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A Date That's Lived in Infamy...75 years later

December 24, 2016

Tennessee stayed true to their nickname as the "volunteer state" after the attack on Pearl Harbor, that occured 75 years ago this month. Here are a few news clippings and photographs from the days after the attack.  

Very few people are still alive today that can say that they remember, firsthand, the attack on Pearl Harbor that occurred December 7th, 1941. But those that are still alive remember the tiniest of details down to what they were wearing, where they were, and how they heard. I'm not using a specific example, but basing those memories on my generation's pivotal moment - September 11th. I was in high school and still young when that happened, so I didn't fully comprehend everything that happened that day. But without a waver, I still remember what I was wearing (my school uniform), where I was (in my freshman computer class - first period), and how I heard (our teacher told us and then turned on the television). 

The September 11th attacks occurred 15 years ago, which is hard to comprehend because it feels like it was just yesterday. But for the people still living that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, or even if they weren't there but lived through them, 75 years passing probably feels even more surreal.

Sidenote: the word "surreal" was the 2016 word of the year by Merriam Webster, because it was looked up more frequently this year than in the past. And also because there were several events this year that warranted the looking up of this word. 

In rememberance of one of the darkest days in US history that led to our entrance into World War II, here's a look back at a few Nashville newspaper clippings from the day of to see how Nashville was involved and responded...

(If you read my post last month about Veteran's Day, I did include/cover some of Pearl Harbor. But the info below is not repeated.)

"Nashvillians are Reported in Far East Danger Zones" 

The article reports about several native Nashvillians identified to be located in the "danger zones" of the far east. Of the individuals shown in the photographs (below), many of them were not heard from immediately. Here are a few highlights: 

Miss Cornelia Fort - daughter of Mrs. Rufus E. Fort and the late Dr. Fort (bottom left photograph) - was the first female flying instructor from Nashville. She was a flight instructor with the Andrew Flying Service located at John Rogers airport in Honolulu. She sailed for her Hawaii position on September 20th. She was last heard from on December 6th in a letter she wrote to her mother. 

The wife of Douglas MacArthur, the former Jean Faircloth of Murfreesboro, was reported to be in the danger zone. Like Cornelia Fort, she was also last heard from on December 6th, but gave no indication of a disturbance in her location of Manila. Her husband, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, was the commander of the US Army in the Phillipines. 

Several of the individuals listed that were in the armed services were graduates of Vanderbilt, including Ensign Jonathan J. Foley Jr. Ensign Foley was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier in Pearl Harbor. Foley's mother was in St. Thomas hospital after a car accident that occurred several weeks beforehand. She had been unconscious as well, so was unaware of her son's station on Pearl Harbor. The last time his family had heard from him was on November 14th, when he stated that "I am sure I can't get leave to come home if mother is worse due to the serious conditions out here."

"Women urged to aid Red Cross in Nurses' Project"

The Red Cross has been a tremendously helping hand throughout both world wars, and through many disasters since then. Here's a clipping/advertisement calling for more help from women to volunteer their time and services as the US was beginning their long campaign in World War II. There was a shortage of nurses, so the calling of help for women to volunteer was for the Red Cross nurses' air project. The volunteers would be trained in several classes taken place in local hospital wards. They would be trained to relieve registered nurses from routine tasks.  

"War Declarations"

Under the "President's Text" clipping (back when text referred to something other than the messages we send each other through our phone) - a clipping that recaps the message from President Roosevelt; the famous one that began with "...a date which will live in infamy..." there is this small clipping informing the public about the most recent declarations of war. This is surreal in many ways (yes, there's that word again): I say that because how often do we read about so many countries/territories declaring war on each other. I emphasize "so many" here. And it's also surreal because of the nature that this information is delivered. In our present political and cultural climate in which news is questioned more harshly about its quality and also because we receive our news more quickly and in a larger variety of ways, it's surreal to think when this newspaper was originally released, it was probably days after an event that they were informed. And because print newspapers were 1 of 2 main ways in which people received their news, so its importance was even greater. 

"What to do in Air Raid"

In the event of another attack or air raid, citizens were given instructions of how to react. Mostly staying calm and not drawing attention to yourself was key. Getting to a safe place, turning out your lights, remaining quiet, and awaiting further instructions from local officials.  

"The Volunteer State"

Tennesseans stayed true to their nickname of the "volunteer state" during this war as well, with 8,000 individuals registering for military service after the declaration of war against the Axis powers. 




And as tomorrow is Christmas Day, here's a look back at a few Christmas' in Nashville...

The Nativity Scene at the Parthenon in Centennial Park (no date)

Harvey's Department Store - Dec, 1955

The Capitol and Legislative Plaza at Christmas Time (no date)

lucille ball


Sarah is a Program Coordinator with Metro Archives. Her interests and areas of expertise are history, reading books (of any kind), music, travel, Harry Potter, and bingeing a good comedy series. When not in Archives, she is either nose-deep in a book or planning her next trip. Learn more about the fascinating materials found at Metro Archives through their website.