After Sunday mass at Holy Trinity, the parents left their four boys in Georgetown to drive to Griffith Stadium to join 27,000 fans to watch "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Already a legend, Baugh was the greatest football player of his era. Record-setting passer, runner, punter, place kicker, defensive back. Yet, not until the fourth quarter did Sammy throw for a pair of touchdowns to finish off the Eagles 20-14.
Something else was happening that Sunday. As the scoreless tie went on, there came a series of public service announcements calling on admirals, generals and officials to leave the stadium and report to their posts. Only when mom and dad left did they learn why.
It was Dec. 7, 1941, and the headline on the extra edition of the tabloid press sold outside Griffith Stadium read in big war type: "Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor!"
Seven years on, after a black Tuesday in the family on my 10th birthday, Nov. 2, 1948, the day Harry Truman waxed Tom Dewey, I was the privileged son taken out to see the Redskins face the same Eagles.
But now the Eagles had the NFL's leading running back Steve Van Buren and the great All-Pro end Pete Pihos.
Surfing the web to conform my memories, I came across some things I did not know then. Van Buren, an NFL immortal who would set all-time rushing records, had been orphaned as a boy in Louisiana.
Pihos had a more arresting story. His father had been murdered. An All-American at Indiana, he had his career interrupted. He had been with the 35th Infantry under Gen. George Patton, took part in D-Day, was commissioned a second lieutenant on the battlefield, and won a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for bravery.
And for a tiny fraction of what players make today, these tough men were battling it out in the '40s in a boys' game in leather helmets.
Washington was another city then, a deeply rooted city, not the cosmopolitan world capital of today where our multicultural elites all seem to come from somewhere else.
Yet, one still recalls from boyhood that when the Redskins would score the fans would all take up the team's fight song written by Corinne Griffith, wife of owner George Preston Marshall. Redskin bandleader Barnee Breeskin wrote the music in the '30s. Here is how it went:
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!
Yeah, I know. Pure unadulterated racism. We just didn't know it.
Fortunately, we now have sensitive souls like Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Indian Nation to tutor us in our depravity.
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