It was a cold gray afternoon. The air smelled of snow as I walked home from skating. I still recall the click of Mother’s knitting needles as she fashioned Christmas mittens and socks. Dad was listening to “The Shadow” on the radio, as he did at 4 each Sunday afternoon.

An announcer’s voice broke into the program, “The Japanese have attack Pearl Harbor.”

War was a familiar word in my vocabulary. My parents and grandparents spoke about Hitler, Germany, Nazi, Mussolini and the bombing of England. I recall the tremor in adult voices when German troops marched into Austria, but even more vividly in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland. I knew Allies meant friends, and the Axis were the enemy.

I recall the day I asked Mother what newspapers wrote about if there was no war. But I knew the news on this cold December day was different from the war words I was accustomed to hearing.

Within weeks, young men left our small town. Women, children and older men stayed behind on what was called the homefront. Look-out towers sprung up in high places throughout town. These towers were manned 24 hours a day, on alert for possible enemy aircraft.

At night, towns were sealed in darkness so they could not be seen from the air. Air raid wardens with helmets, older men of the town, checked each building to assure not a speck of light shown.

We learned to roll bandages, took Red Cross courses, made camouflage nets on wheels previously used to make fisherman nets. We saved newspapers, planted Victory Gardens, had ration books for our food, and rarely had fresh meat.

Hearts stirred at hearing the “Marine’s Hymn,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America,” and at the sight of Old Glory. Letters to our boys and girls “over there” were microfilmed and called “V-mail.”

Day and night I kept to myself the fear of what would happen if the Axis powers attack the United States. Early on, we learned to do without and not complain.

Historians say World War II affected more people and caused more far-reaching changes than any war in history. I don’t question that, for many dear to me were there.

Dec. 7, 1941 , the day which truly “will live in infamy.”

God bless our veterans of all wars, and God bless America.

Evelyn A. Potter lives in Kents Hill.


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