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War

December 8, 2011

Three thousand miles of widely varied terrain – from mountains to deserts, swamps to farmland. Another three thousand miles or so across the Pacific Ocean. That’s the distance that separates Pearl Harbor from Washington, DC.

WACs operate a teletype machine during World War II.

While today communication across the world is nearly instantaneous, in 1941 there were some challenges. Starting with the time difference. When the attack began in Pearl Harbor at 8am local time, it was 1pm on the east coast – it ended close to 3pm. And forget the immediacy of the internet: news was spread by telephone, morse code or telegraph machines, which transmitted news stories via a cable. In this case, a cable stretched for miles underneath the Pacific Ocean.


The initial reports about the attack spread on December 7th, through breaking news updates on local radio stations (remember these were the days before television). And the next day, December 8th, President Franklin Roosevelt announced that the United States was at war.

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