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December 7, 1941
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Pearl Harbor Day, 64 years ago today. My mother used to tell me this story and in her memory, I want to tell you.

She was pregnant and alone Sunday, December 7th, 1941. The word “gravid” doesn’t begin to describe it, as the baby was due that day (or earlier). She wouldn’t lie completely flat on the bed, because, once flat, she couldn’t get up again, so she slept propped up on pillows.

She woke up early—unusual for her, since she was always a late sleeper, but pregnancies in the ninth month have a whole assortment of discomforts, not to mention a baby trying to kick her way out through the abdominal wall—past the ribs to freedom!

She turned on the radio that cold December morning in Connecticut, icicles hanging off the eaves. The music was interrupted by the announcement that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, and that all ordinary communications were disrupted. There would be further news bulletins as they became available.

My father had volunteered for the Navy, commissioned as an Ensign, after graduating from college. Stationed at Pearl Harbor, he had been on shore leave that Saturday, had a late night with his buddies and had not yet returned to his ship when the attack came. He survived, though the list of his shipmates killed that day goes on for pages.

My mother, however, didn’t know if he was dead or alive, if she was a widow, soon to bear a half-orphaned child. The whole world seemed to be coming to an end, in a planet-wide conflagration of war and killing and bombing. What a world to bring a child into! Nowadays the victory of the Allies may appear to be the inevitable outcome, but Hitler and Tojo in 1941 were invincible, and the attack by Japan, Liberty’s death blow.

She gave birth three days later, still not knowing my father’s fate.

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