Pearl Harbor remembered

Historically Speaking



Happy December, Atascosa County! Well, we are in the homestretch of 2021 and we are preparing to embark on an optimistic 2022. I say that because it seems that normalcy is on the rise. This past weekend, the family and I attended some festivities and the attendees were many. This weekend, there will be a lot happening to celebrate Christmas around the county.

As with all history, slang terms were sometimes used that were acceptable at that time, but not acceptable by today’s standards. The following article quotes text from the time and the material shown is useful for historic and educational purposes. It is not suitable if measured by today’s standards; this was material from 1941.

A lot was happening in the county 80 years ago. On Dec. 7, 1941, everyone was preparing for Christmas. The small, rural towns were bustling with activity; all the town folks were getting ready for the colder weather. The county population was a whopping 19,275 after a 23 % increase from the previous decade (today, the county population sits at 52,815). Remember that the way to receive any news or entertainment was from “the wireless” or the radio. The television, although invented and popular, was not a standard or practical item in 1941 as it is today.

The San Antonio Express Newspaper’s Dec. 8, 1941, headline across the entire front page read: “Japs Butcher Americans.” Below the headline, the paper reported that “Roosevelt Summons Congress.” Just like that, in a swoop, the United States was involved in war. The war that was dubbed “The Big One.” Young men all over the country rushed to their nearest recruiting station to sign up to fight on their country’s behalf.

According to the Texas Genealogy Trails website, Atascosa County sent 51 young men to World War II. Of those 50, 34 were listed as killed in action. To see the full roster (with names), visit: http:// southtexas/atascosa/ mil_ ww2honor.html.

The locals would have ended their day on Dec. 8, 1941, retiring to their radio for the news. They would have heard President Roosevelt recite this now famous preamble:

“Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Yesterday, Dec. 7, 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.

The United States was at peace with that na- tion and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.”

President Roosevelt concluded his speech to Congress with:

“Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces with the unbounding determination of our people we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.” And just like that, history was made for the entire country, and the world for that matter. If you lived through this and have memories to share, let me know please.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. Thank you for reading, until next time.

MARTIN GONZALES is the Atascosa County Commission Chairman. If you have history of Atascosa County you’d like to share, you may contact him at 830-480-2741.

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