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75 Years Ago

75 years ago the United States entered World War II after attacks on U.S. military bases across the Pacific, most memorably at Pearl Harbor in the U.S. Territory of the Hawaiian Islands. For your final exam, in an essay of no fewer than five hundred words, please compare and contrast the schools’ reactions to war in these editorials from the Northfield and Mount Hermon newspapers.

from The Northfield Star, vol. XXVI, no. 2; p. 2 (December 17, 1941).


            Think of all the little children in Europe, girls, and conserve! The world is really beginning to take notice of the abilities of our fair sex and we accordingly should prove our capability by accepting, along with the privileges of equality, the responsibility involved. We can “do our part” in defense by following Miss Wilson’s noble advice about conservation of water and electricity and the serious promotion of health. The men of a country have a more spectacular part in national defense, but they depend on us to carry out the more commonplace functions that they have had to abandon. Obviously at our tender age, we can’t leave school to go out and plow a field, but we can practice those little economies that in the end contribute greatly either to a success or a failure. We need not go into the intricacies of these measures with which you are all by now undoubtedly quite deadly familiar, but keep them in mind and don’t let any old soldiers get ahead of us in preparation for national defense.

from The Hermonite, vol. LV, no. 7; p. 2  (December 17, 1941).


         Currently raging on campus are two major questions. The first, “How old are you” and the second, “Have you heard the latest?” But really, of what matter to us are these insignificant interrogations?”
            “How old are you?” – what difference does it make? The draft age has not yet been lowered to eighteen, despite prevalent rumors that it has. None of us, therefore, are subject to an immediate call into the armed forces. Moreover, the present need is not for man-power, but rather for machinery and weapons. Therefore, here at Hermon are we able to do the most good, for by avoiding such foolish talk of enlisting we are able to restore calm and order. By continuing our customary activities without hysterical excitement are we best serving our country. Consequently, our place remains on this hill; our duty is to train for the bitter post-war days by completing our education now.
            “Have you heard the latest?” – similarly wasted time in asking this question. Ninety-nine out of a hundred times “the latest” is only the product of some fanciful imagination. Let’s “turn a deaf ear” to the propaganda mongers about the school. They only cause anxiety and excitement.
            It has been said that the axis powers will conduct a “war of nerves” against this country. Thus we will doubtless be flooded with groundless rumors from foreign sources.
We must learn, therefore, to receive all reports with calm deliberation, waiting for official Washington statements before we become too alarmed.
            This does not mean, however, that we should be idealists; that we should not face the facts. War is definitely here! We cannot crawl back within our shell in a policy of isolation, for in the past two and one half years we have learned the lesson of similar mistakes in the foreign relations of such nations as Poland, Norway, Denmark, and France. On the contrary, we must plan for a long war; a war in which our cities may be bombed, our civilians killed, our buildings destroyed; a war abounding with disheartening defeats.
            Doubtless there will be shortages of many vital supplies. In the emergency it will be necessary to make patriotic sacrifices. But nevertheless throughout all we must continue as nearly as possible our usual activities.

            Above all, we must not fall victims to gossip, for gossip breeds excitement, excitement breeds confusion, confusion breeds chaos, and chaos in the United States aids the Axis cause.