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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