President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941 as a date that will live in infamy. Today, 70 years later, Hingham residents still remember where they were when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
Hingham resident Joseph Richer was 10-years-old when he heard the news on the radio at his home in Worcester.
“The nation was in total shock,” he said. “Everyone was glued to the radio.”
Richer remembers the Catholic celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was the next day. He remembers the College Football Rose Ball between Duke and Oregon being played shortly after, and how Americans feared the game would be bombed.
“It was a shock that something like this would happen,” Richer said. “To think they (Japan) could do something like this and get away with this was unthinkable. We were an unprepared nation. We didn’t realize the strength of Japan. We were caught off guard.”
Martha Corey, a Hingham resident living at the describes Dec. 7, 1941 as a “devastating day.” She was 13-years-old when she heard the news at her home in Weymouth.
“People were talking about how horrible this whole thing was and how people were hurt,” she said. “We felt bad about the people who were hurt.”
Hingham WWII veteran Gil Nelson said he didn't even know much about Japan until Pearl Harbor was hit and said most Americans only knew about Germany as the enemy.
Corey remembers one of her brothers enlisting in WWII shortly afterwards and instead of fearing war, he felt it was his duty to serve.
Richer said there wasn’t fear instilled into Americans, instead there was great optimism.
“There was a great sense of patriotism which doesn’t exist today.”
He described it as a complete different sense of patriotism than the one that existed after the September 11th attacks. He described America as being more united.
Richer said the 1940’s were a totally different America. He said the times were simple as the country was coming out of a depression.
“It was very good times because everyone was in the same boat,” he said. “We were all poor but we didn’t know it.”
Richer believes the Americans of his generation did not complain about the war, and just did what they had to do.
Gilman, who enlisted in WWII in 1943 shares similar opinions with Richer.
"It was not only about patriotism but the importance of people getting together for a cause," Gilman said.
Gilman said people of his time pursued what was in the best interest for America and said his generation thought more about unity than disparity.
The attack on this day 70 years ago led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and Europe. The following day the United States declared war on Japan.