December 6, 1941 - Déjà vu All Over Again

Bill Tatro
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Posted: Mar 11, 2015 12:01 AM
December 6, 1941 - Déjà vu All Over Again

We are all familiar with the events of December 7, 1941. Movies, books, plays and even Congressional hearings have filled the landscape for decades since that “Day that will live in infamy”. Millions of lives were changed, from the farm boy in Iowa to the hot dog vendor in Manhattan, from the surgeon to the used car salesman. The World was at war and America was in it.

There were many who said that it was inevitable. After all, Hitler has been marching through Europe like a hot knife through butter. Japan was feeling the grip of US sanctions and looked to the Southeast for respite. Even Italy was flexing its muscles by over-running Ethiopia. Not to be outdone, Russia joined the party with a follow-up invasion of Poland.


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There were many who believed that Japan did not conduct a sneak attack. In fact, it was the deliberate actions of FDR that provoked an anticipated strike by the Rising Sun.

The rationale for such belief was the country’s disdain for following WWI with an entry into WWII. Various strategies had been used to stir the patriotic juices of the American public, much like the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, but to no avail. The American public would have none of it. The government would need something more dramatic for America to once again sing the refrain “Over there”. Something dramatic was what they got-Pearl Harbor. There will never be another day quite like December 7th.

Technology has taken quantum leaps. Alliances which were formed for both offense and defense seemed to have shifted dramatically. War itself was revamped as bombing strikes are initiated from tens of thousands miles away by satellite guidance systems and unmanned drones. Information is dispensed worldwide in seconds, not hours or even days. Money and currency have become tools for an attack and decimation of entire economies. No, there will never be another December 7th in exactly that way. Our December 7th will have an entirely different look.

However, we are repeating, almost identically, the day before that infamous Sunday.

Conversations with my 90 year old father convinced me that it is December 6th, 1941.

Déjà vu All Over Again.

It was 1941 and the World outside of the United States was ablaze. But within the boundaries of the Atlantic and the Pacific, America was swinging to the sounds of Jimmy Dorsey, Glen Miller and Arty Shaw. Movie-goers paid a quarter to see Jimmy Stewart win an Academy Award for Best Actor in The Philadelphia Story. Ted Williams finished the season hitting .406; the last time any major leaguer hit over 400. Joe Lewis knocked out Billy Conn in the 13th round to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The NFL was finishing its season which would eventually be won by the Chicago Bears against the NY Giants before the smallest crowd to see an NFL Championship Game, 13,341, two weeks after the fateful Sunday. That night, December 6th, New Yorkers went to bed not envisioning a World War but the new airport to be built in Queens called Idlewild (now Kennedy) as that day it got its final approval.

Today is it any different as Apple introduces its new Iwatch, the bull market continues its six year tear, the race for President has begun, the Pats became the NFL champs, the baseball Spring season is in full bloom, American Sniper sets box office records, and a great steak can be had for the bargain price of $65.

Why oh why would anyone be bothered today by Syria and Ukraine civil wars, a declining Chinese growth rate, a collapsing oil market, devalued currencies or even a war on whatever as long as the above continues to redirect our attention. Just as why would anyone in 1941 be bothered by National Socialism, a Manchurian invasion or the ravings of an Italian demigod.

If it doesn’t concern me, then it won’t, until it does.

But in 24 hours the world changed. So it will again.

December 6th, 1941

Déjà vu All Over Again.