December 7 1941

December 7, 2011 by staff 

December 7 1941, Chicago was warm on December 7, 1941–warm for December, with a high of 39 degrees. It was Sunday. With the stores closed, people had a chance to take the day off from Christmas shopping. Maybe they were headed out to Comiskey Park to watch the Cardinals battle the Bears.

The news hit the city shortly after noon. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor–where’s that? And Chicagoans searched their maps, and found it was in Hawaii, and realized that their country was now at war.

Little more than a year ago, 40,000 people had gathered in Grant Park to hear Charles Lindbergh tell them that the U.S. must stay out of foreign wars. The Tribune had been sounding the same message. But things were different now. We had been attacked. We would stand together as Americans.

Suddenly, all Chicago was in motion. Sunday afternoon looked like Friday evening rush hour. Municipal Airport and the city’s six railroad terminals were jammed with travelers whose plans had abruptly changed–soldiers and sailors returning to their units, politicians on their way to Washington, private citizens just wanting to get back home. There were crowds gathering at the churches, too.

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