December 7th: War Music

Remembering Pearl Harbor … in Song

This may not be top of mind with younger readers, however, those born before or within 20 years after the event still remember it vividly. Monday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Just before 8:00AM Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese began their surprise attack on U.S. naval, marine, and air bases in and around Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii. The next day, the U.S. declared war on Japan. On December 11, shortly after Germany declared war on the U.S., the U.S. declared war on Germany.

As the U.S. geared up for total war, as the outcome appeared uncertain, in the face of setbacks, and in the throes of anger, the country’s entertainment industry joined in the battle. Their job was to buck up Americans, to stir the country’s patriot spirit, and to assure the nation that the U.S. would win against tyrannical enemies.

Music played its role in the warrior drumbeat. Forgotten today, these two Pearl Harbor songs were popular in their day (the Sammy Kaye song charting number three in 1942). In fact, some of you old enough may recall singing the Sammy Kaye version in your classrooms each December 7th, especially during the early Cold War years.

You’re invited to take a listen to each.

Remember Pearl Harbor,” Sammy Kaye Orchestra and the Glee Club

Remember Pearl Harbor,” Carson Robison.

Anger was high and prejudice very much alive. The forties were not the 21st century, so some, even given the historical nature of the song, may find the Robison-version lyrics offensive. Be aware before listening. w/c


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