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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)

TITLE: Day of Infamy
By Dara Sorensen


Margery ran from her bedroom, putting the last bobby pin in her hair.

“Maggie! Come quick!” her seventeen-year-old younger brother Johnnie’s voice called from downstairs. “The President’s about to speak!”

“Coming!” Her chestnut brown ringlets bounced against her shoulders as she headed down the stairs. Her chest constricted as she heard the strong yet muffled voice of President Roosevelt on the radio in the living room.

Yesterday, December 7th, 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.

Father stood next to the radio, his arms crossed and a grave look on his face. Mother had her hand held up next to her mouth, her eyes glistening with tears. Johnnie was the only one who spoke.

“We should’ve never given them the chance to bomb us in the first place,” he said. “We should’ve been over there, fighting those lousy—"

“Enough, John.” Father’s stern voice stopped Johnnie’s impassioned rant. Johnnie remained silent but Margery could see that the rage burned beneath his otherwise calm exterior.

Margery remembered too well when she’d heard the news yesterday. It had been an otherwise normal Sunday afternoon as they all sat in the living room, absently listening to the radio when the announcer interrupted with a bulletin: The naval base in Pearl Harbor has been attacked.

Her fiancé, Henry, was stationed aboard the USS Arizona.

The rest of the day passed in a blur. She couldn’t eat or sleep, praying fervently for Henry’s safety. She’d spent the night staring at his picture, willing him to survive.

Margery fingered her engagement ring as she listened to the President’s speech.

“I’m sure he’s all right, darling,” Mother murmured to her. “We haven’t heard anything to convince us otherwise.”

“Perhaps he’s in a hospital somewhere,” Father said.

Johnnie said nothing, though Margery could see that he didn’t agree. Even Father’s normally stoic façade was slipping—and the thought of her beloved being in a watery grave suddenly seemed all too possible.

I can’t think this way. He’s alive…he has to be…There were thousands of men stationed there. If anyone survived, it would be Henry. Besides, it had been God’s plan for them to be together. They were childhood sweethearts. God wouldn’t take him away now.

But with each excuse, a horrid certainty crept into her heart.

I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost.

The words confirmed what she had been denying in her heart.

Henry was dead.

“Oh, God, no,” she crumpled to the floor, the weight of the truth she had been trying to deny crushing her.“Not Henry, not Henry!”

Mother embraced her, whispering comforting words. “It’s not certain…”

“Yes, it is Mother!” Margery could feel ever fiber of her being quivering as her world shattered. “I tried to deny it, but I feel it. Oh God, why did you take him? Why?” She buried her head in her mother’s shoulder as she felt part of her soul being ripped from her.

Mother wouldn’t and couldn’t argue with her. The sense of foreboding was too strong to ignore.

“I’m going to fight them,” Johnnie’s voice came through her painful haze. He bent down to her level and grabbed her hands. “Mags, I’m going to make sure every single one of those Japs that killed him pays for what they did to you.” Though she appreciated his show of devotion, the thought of losing him was nearly as painful as the loss she suffered now.

“John, come now,” Father put his hand on his shoulder. “Don’t make such a rash decision yet. Let us take this up in prayer before you sign up. I don’t want you to be acting out of hate.”

“But Father—," Johnnie stopped when Father held up his hand signaling an end to the discussion.

“Right now, your sister needs you.”

Father’s simple reason got through and Johnnie remained silent. Instead, he came over to Margery, simply embracing her and letting out his own sorrow.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

Though spoken to millions, Margery felt that the words were meant as a source of comfort from God. She grieved now, but she would overcome this.

She kissed her ring, sealing an unspoken promise.

I’ll be strong for you.

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This article has been read 623 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/15/09
A great way to approach this bit of history--from a family's living room! Very creative, and I like the open ending.
c clemons01/20/09
Very well done.
Karlene Jacobsen01/20/09
Gripping. From beginning to end, you had me. Well done.
Teresa Lee Rainey01/20/09
Ok, this is really, really bittersweet. Beautifully written - You had my attention and held it throughout - even brought tears to my eyes. Appreciate the way you took me into one possible glimps of a family changed by that fateful day in history. :)
Chely Roach01/20/09
Wonderful entry...a tender insight to a horrible time in our history. Well done!
Myrna Noyes01/20/09
This is very well-written! I love stories based on history, and my dad fought in WWII, so this was of special interest to me. You did an excellent job of capturing one family's reaction to Pearl Harbor and how it changed their lives.
Norma-Anne Hough01/21/09
Powerful story. Well told. You had my interest from start to finish.
Eliza Evans 01/21/09
Really good!
GREAT job on characterization. I'm impressed.

The only thing that didn't click for me was her *knowing* he was dead. As humans we tend to cling to hope against hope against hope. Acceptance being the last stage of grief.

Just a thought.

Thanks for sharing this.
Very good entry. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/22/09
A great story all the way through. The sense of history and of family and of nation are all strong.