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Infamy day

By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor

On December 7th, 1941, my father was a newly-minted Captain in the U.S. Army, in his office in Conway, Arkansas.  My mother was at home with a brand-new baby -- living in the sparse housing on base.  Money was tight, and because they couldn't afford a proper crib, they did what a lot of struggling couples did: my oldest brother came home from the hospital as a four-day old infant and slept in a dresser drawer, outfitted with blankets to mimic a crib.

On that day -- 66 years ago today -- the ticker printed out in the office outside where my father was sitting. Something to the effect of: PEARL HARBOR UNDER ATTACK -- THIS IS NOT A DRILL.  My father called home, and my mother burst into tears at what the news meant.  My father called his sister, who did the same thing, knowing her husband, a lieutenant Commander in the Navy, would surely ship out soon.  He did, and was badly wounded when his ship, the USS DuPage, was hit by a kamikaze aircraft.

President Roosevelt spoke the next day, and we knew we were in the war. He called December 7th "a date which will live in infamy," and it remains one of those dates we remember.  Like July 4th.  Like September 11th.  Just as an exercise -- bear with me here -- I've listed some other events below.  See how well you do at remembering the actual dates for each one.  And send me your own family story regarding December 7, 1941.

We're still putting the broadcast into running order tonight.  We hope you can join us for it.  I also hope you have a good weekend, and can join us again on Monday night.

QUIZ (push continued for answers):

1. When did War II end?
2. The Vietnam War?
3. When did World War I begin -- and end?
4. The Civil War?
5. When was Abraham Lincoln assassinated?
6. James Garfield?
7. William McKinley?
8. Martin Luther King?
9. Robert F. Kennedy?
10. When did man first walk on the Moon?
11. What date was "Black Monday"?
12. When was the Oklahoma City bombing?
13. When did Richard Nixon resign?
14. When did the Berlin Wall fall?


1. World War Two ended in Europe on May 8, 1945 -- VE Day. The war in the Pacific ended with Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945 -- VJ Day.
2. The Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon to the communists on April 30, 1975.
3. World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on June 28, 1914. It ended with Germany signing an armistice agreement on November 11, 1918 -- Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day.
4. The Civil War began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. It ended with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.
5. Lincoln was assassinated just five days after the Civil War ended, on April 14, 1865.
6. Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881. He died that September 19.
7. McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901 and died eight days later.
8. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968
9. Robert Kennedy was shot in the early hours of June 5, 1968, after winning the June 4 California presidential primary. He died about 25 hours later.
10. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
11. A trick question. There have been two Black Mondays, when the stock market crashed: first on October 28, 1929, and again on October 19, 1987.
12. The Oklahoma City bombing took place on April 19, 1995.
13. Richard Nixon announced his intention to resign in a nationally televised speech on August 8, 1974. The resignation took effect at noon the following day.
14. The wall separating East and West Berlin effectively came down on November 9, 1989, after standing for 28 years.