A Day of Infamy

In memory of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, here is an excerpt from my manuscript, Broken Dolls. In this scene, it is December 8, 1941, the day after the bombing. Nobu, my 17-year old Japanese American protagonist, is in school, about to listen to the broadcast of President Roosevelt’s speech:
     Third period arrived and Nobu walked into Mrs. Connelly’s Social Studies class. How was he supposed to sit through the President’s speech? The stares had become like bugs crawling all over him. He wanted to swat them away, squash them, but the creepy stares weren’t so easy to get rid of.
     Still, maybe he could scare one pest off.
     “What’re you looking at?” he asked, getting in the face of a boy slumped at a desk in the front row.
     The kid snickered. Smug, he turned to look at the book in front of him.
     Mrs. Connelly rushed over to the boys. “Nobu! I’ll not have any of that in my class.”
     He dropped into a seat at the back of the room. At least there, it wouldn’t be so easy for his classmates to harass him.
     Returning to her desk, she continued to address her students. “Class, as you know, I brought my radio to class today for you to listen to the broadcast of President Roosevelt’s address to Congress.” She removed her glasses and clutched them in her hand. “The attack on Pearl Harbor has raised the emotions of many Americans, but as you listen, I expect you to conduct yourselves in a respectful manner to all students. Face forward during the speech. You may take notes, in fact, I expect you to take notes.” She smiled. “But no passing notes, especially during the broadcast.”
     Nobu took a deep breath. Thanks, Mrs. Connelly.
     When she turned the radio on, static crackled loudly, and she adjusted the volume.
     The class quieted at the sound of the President’s words.
     Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. . .

     Nobu’s pulse raced. His neck burned. He wiped his sweaty palms onto his jeans.

. . . The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost.

     Several classmates began to tap their pencils on desktops. Others’ knees jittered up and down. Some of these kids had fathers at Pearl Harbor.
     Nobu’s gut twisted and pinched.

. . . I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

     War. The United States . . . at war with Japan.

This entry was posted in Broken Dolls, Japanese-American, nostalgia, Pearl Harbor, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Day of Infamy

  1. Patty says:

    Great job, Jan! I can feel Nobu's anxiety. My stomach was jittery, I was so nervous.


  2. Denton Gay says:

    Well written and a very timely excerpt, Jan.


  3. Oscar says:

    There was a "Nobu" in our class in school for awhile, but they gathered him and his family up and sent them to one of the camps to wait out the war. We were ll years old at the time, fifth graders.


  4. Russell says:

    Great job. I'm not old enough to remember that day, but I do remember sitting in my 2nd grade class the day President Kennedy was shot. The entire room was filled with emotion. Shock, horror, anger, – I'll never forget it. I cannot even imagine how horrible this event was for those of Japanese descent living in this country.


  5. Jan Morrill says:

    Oscar, thanks for your comment. It's fascinating to me when I hear from someone who experienced the history I have written about in my book. I'd be interested to hear more!Russell, I remember the day President Kennedy was shot, also, though I wasn't in school. I remember I was excited that I'd lost a tooth, and I couldn't understand why my mom wasn't more interested in my tooth. Instead, she was crying as she watched the television news.


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