Minnesota's Greatest Generation

William Anderson: An Insult to America

The bombing of Pearl Harbor On December 7, 1941 and America's entrance into the war were events that burned strong memories in the minds of Minnesota's Greatest Generation. Most can remember where they were when they heard the news. William L. Anderson was stationed with the 34th Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in December 1941, and wrote a letter home to his family on that "day that will live in infamy."


Fort Sam Houston, Texas
December 7, 1941

Dear Mom and All;

"WAR!" announced the local newspapers. Big, black letters fairly shouted the surprising news to the people of San Antonio. Radio commentators and correspondents had a field day. So did the Japanese navy.

At first I tended to minimize the importance of the [situation]. I thought that the Japanese navy double-crossed its government, and that very soon Japan would send Roosevelt a note of apology and promise to pay full indemnities. But no, Japan wants to fight, and fight she will - for her life.

I don't know if Uncle Sam is ready for war, but she's got one. Either Japan knows all the answers, or she doesn't know any. So help me - What an insult to the American people this attack is. Our strongest base [attacked] under a white flag. Japanese diplomats accepting the friendship and goodwill of the American government were, at the time of the attack, smiling and [whispering] sweet nothings into Hull's ears. Oh! I can't get over it.

A challenge that cannot be turned down has been thrown right into our face. To back out would be cowardly. Costa Rica, Dutch East Indies, and [Britain] is behind us; we can't lose.

Right now the American Navy is turning over [everywhere] in the Pacific. Japan is on the run already. Sometime they'll find them, and good [bye] Japs - Hitler too. Because once we start something - we finish it. A big victory for the Allies now will have immeasurable effect upon the peoples of the world. The subjugated peoples of France, Norway, Holland, Slovakia, and others will be greatly inspired. The German [morale] will reach an all time low. China will drive the Japanese off the Asiatic mainland, and the British and the American Navies will drive Japan off the seas. Here's our chance - "Our Country, Right or Wrong", but she's right.

Excited and wondering soldiers are grouped around radios keeping score. Worried they are too, for this puts a [definite] end to their hopes for Christmas furloughs. So maybe you'd better drop down here for Christmas. We'll see what develops first.

One thing, Buzzy is wondering about his wife. If the 34th Division heads for Japan and the Geisha girls, he'll want to see her. She's pregnant, you know. The last of March is the date, so [think] it over. Get in touch with her; will you, Mom? Her telephone number is G15688. And if you do decide to come down, bring her along. You'll like [her], I know; for she's a lovely young girl. Do this for Buzz too. They'll appreciate such action very much. Understand - this is in case there is no chance for furloughs. And through Buzz's wife, look up his mother. You two will be able to cry on each others soldier [sic?].

Forget about all civilian clothes!

Well, Mom, I may sound like a young war hawk, but I don't want to hurt you. I don't know where I'm going or when I'll get there; so smile a while and don't worry about this soldier.


So relax, take it easy - I'll be home before you know. I'm sure glad that I have no [entangling] alliances with any young women back in Minnesota. I [feel] sorry for the ones who have. Buzz, Blackie, Joe, and the other boys may be in a bad spot. Luck to them.

Good Bye, Now,

View Original Letter



Anderson, William L. William L. Anderson Papers. Minnesota Historical Society Manuscript Collection.