MERIDEN — The morning following the attack on U.S. Army bases at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the front page of the then Meriden Record read “Japs Make War on U.S. … Hawaii, Manila Bombed.” The paper printed stories spanning from the local perspective to the national and international scale, memorializing a historic day.
Local soldiers, including Meriden man Thomas McKiernan, who was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, were directly affected by the attack. It was not yet known if McKiernan, who had been at the base for over two years, had survived the attack, and “his parents (were) naturally worried over the reports,” the Meriden Record reported. McKiernan is not among the list of dead in the attacks at Pearl Harbor, according to the Department of the Interior.
Various Meriden and Wallingford soldiers on temporary leave were immediately called back to action following the attack. George J. Boick, of Meriden, had returned home for a nine-day furlough just two days before being called to return to duty, the Meriden Record reported Dec. 8.
At the time, President Roosevelt’s intention to ask Congress for a declaration of war against Japan was known, but had not occurred yet. The Meriden Record told readers the president would meet at 12:30 p.m. and a declaration of war was likely. It would be that afternoon the president would make his famous “Day of Infamy” speech to a joint-session of congress. War was declared immediately after.
A story from the Associated Press described “an electrified nation immediately (uniting) for a terrible struggle ahead,” referring to Japan’s declaration of war on the United States.
The Meriden Record also reported on the raid of Manila, Philippines, where the U.S. also had military bases and an attack occurred just hours after Pearl Harbor.
But the morning of Dec. 8, there were conflicting reports if the attack had happened and the Associated Press reported that President Roosevelt “hoped the report of bombing ‘at least is erroneous.’”
A section on “Brief War Developments” announced Canada and Costa Rica’s separate declarations of war against Japan. A story from the Associated Press also described responses from Congress members showing “indignation at attack.” Sen. Burton K. Wheeler and Rep. Hamilton Fish reportedly “lead demands for united action” and were ready to declare war on Japan, an action they had resisted previously.
The Westerly Sun, a newspaper now-owned by the Record-Journal, was the first to publish the news of the Pearl Harbor attack in its regular edition. Other papers printed the news that day, but in special editions.
As the only afternoon Sunday paper in the nation at that time, the paper, then named the Sunday Sun, had the news out that afternoon on Dec. 7, when Publisher George B. Utter stopped the presses to get it on the front page, according to the Associated Press in 1995.
Headlines and briefs on the front page of the Sunday Sun on Dec. 7 included:
■• Japs Declare War on U.S. ... Honolulu, Manila Bombed… Naval Battle off Hawaii
■• Japanese headquarters announced at 6 a.m. today that Japan had entered a state of war with the United States and Britain in the Western Pacific as of dawn today.
■• A naval engagment is in progress off Honolulu, with at least one black enemy aircraft carrier in action against Pearl Harbor defenses.
■• London Hit by Amazement by War News
■• Soviet Army Will Fight on Litvinoff Says
■• Untold Damage Done Honolulu, Witness Says
■• Roosevelt Gives Navy Orders