Reminiscing and waving the American flag

Aug. 17, 2018
by Mark Ollig

“Music played from the radio while my father swept the floor and I was cleaning off a table when, unexpectedly, the music stopped. Next, we heard President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s voice,” my mother told me.

A few years ago, mom told me her memories of the day FDR gave his famous speech to Congress.

The date was Monday, Dec. 8, 1941; she was 11 years old.

Having just finished cleaning off the table as President Roosevelt began to speak, she remembered her father abruptly stopped sweeping the floor and focused his attention on the radio.

They both paused while listening intently to Roosevelt’s speech over the radio.

“Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan,” President Roosevelt said.

The Japanese military had attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, HI.

One strong memory of what happened right after Roosevelt finished his speech remains with my mom.

“My father was holding the broom with the handle touching the floor; he lifted the broom and pounded it down onto the wooden floor; the echo could be heard reverberating around the room as he raised his voice saying, ‘My God, we’re at war!’” she said, while raising her own voice for emphasis.

I asked if she would like to hear President Roosevelt’s speech again. She paused for a moment and then said, “Yes.”

With my smartphone, I did a quick search, and within seconds, my mother was once again hearing Roosevelt’s Dec. 8, 1941, speech.

While listening with her eyes closed, she nodded several times during the speech.

President Roosevelt finished his address saying; “. . . a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.” Mom paused, and then softly repeated the words her father had said those many years ago.

While reminiscing about how her family lived during the years of World War II, she recalled one famous US soldier, Audie Murphy.

Murphy was the most decorated US soldier during World War II and received every military medal of valor the US Army had.

“He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I went there years ago while in Washington, DC,” mom told me.

I searched online and quickly located a wealth of information about Audie Murphy, including photos of his white marble headstone at Arlington Cemetary.

July 3, 1955, Audie Murphy appeared on the TV game show “What’s My Line?,” which can be can be seen at http://www.audiemurphy.com/media.htm.

Mom told me that she and my father used to watch “What’s My Line” every Sunday night. She even remembered the name of the host, John Charles Daly.

Daly was also a journalist for CBS. He gave one of the very first radio bulletin reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, during the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.

We watched the segment of the “What’s My Line” show featuring Murphy’s appearance.

Mom recalled when she and her sister, Marguerite, visited the USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor, in Honolulu, HI, in 1994.

On my smartphone, we listened to radio news bulletins and watched a few film clips taken Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.

We viewed a video of the current memorial site over the USS Arizona, and the local surroundings she and her sister visited.

Reminiscing about historical moments with someone who lived through them; especially listening to their memories of those times, is meaningful, to say the least.

During the Aug. 12 Winsted Grand Parade, mom, and other family members watched the long line of decorative floats passing by them along Fairlawn Avenue West.

As a group of military veterans began to approach, mom started to wave the American flag she was holding.

One of the veterans marching by was her brother, David, who served in the US Army.

Mom was all smiles and shouted, “Hi, Davey!”

David turned his head and noticed her waving the flag.

He smiled and shouted back, “Hey, Therese!”

Mom proudly waved the American flag as her brother walked past.

It was a good day.

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