News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

December 9, 2013

MS. TAKES: Important date passes by without much notice

TERRE HAUTE — Recently we were asked to share our memories of the Kennedy assassination. Folks were interviewed for television or radio, or were asked to recall exactly what they were doing when they got word that our president had been murdered.

So it was a bit of surprise when Saturday’s 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor passed quietly and almost without notice.

This dates me, but there are still a lot of us around who remember Dec. 7, 1941, and what we were doing when we realized that our country was officially at war.

While not minimizing the shock and loss of President Kennedy, the lives of all Americans were impacted by the war that began on that date. A high school classmate was lost on Guam. The son of good friends was lost in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. My Best Friend’s brother-in-law was taken prisoner in France only 24 hours after D-Day and spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp. My brother was aboard the aircraft carrier Lexington nearing the coast of Japan when the war ended, and my BF was on the West Coast with his air crew waiting for orders taking him to the Orient.

Those of us at home shopped for everything from gasoline and tires to groceries and leather shoes armed with ration books. We turned in an empty tube of toothpaste before we were allowed to buy a fresh tube. We ransacked kitchen cupboards for aluminum to be recycled and used to build airplanes. Letters, incoming and outgoing, were censored and those of us old enough to have a Social Security card were expected to work after school so boys and men could be free to fight and women to work in war industries.

I learned we were at war when I delivered a dozen of Mom’s freshly baked cookies to an elderly neighbor and I listened to the news with her on the radio. We were all affected by that Sunday’s events then and for nearly four years following.

I’m older now, but remember it well and I was disappointed that the Pentagon opted to save money by eliminating the traditional flight over the memorial at Pearl Harbor. Veterans of that war and those of us who lived through it needed no reminder, but a recognition of their service and sacrifice would have been nice.

Let’s hope we don’t forget the veterans of Korea and Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq when their service and sacrifice becomes a dimly remembered bit of history.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to

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