The Japanese attack on the American fleet in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was so horrific that anyone mentioning “Pearl Harbor” all of these decades later doesn’t have to explain what he’s talking about. The attack on Pearl Harbor immediately plunged this nation into World War II.
Citizens were so shocked and enraged by the cowardly attack they were ready to give the Japanese a taste of their own medicine. Several years ago, I compiled a “Scrapbook” feature on the attack which is reprinted on pages 4-6 of this week’s print and online editions for the 80th anniversary of the attack that plunged America into World War II.
I had the opportunity to meet and talk with local men who were among those under attack at Pearl Harbor that awful day. They lived to talk about what they saw and felt. They have since passed away along with most of the survivors of the Dec, 7, 1941 attack, so I’m thankful the conversations with those local men are part of this newspaper’s archives. One thing about that day that really stands out: out of the horror of the attack came a national resolve and unity to defeat an enemy that dared to attack this great nation.
• PANCAKES with a spoon? Shortages are affecting local businesses in various ways. I stopped by Dairy Queen to pick up some pancakes for my breakfast one morning last week. I paid at the first window and when I received my order at the second window, a very nice young woman handed me the order and said: “We are out of forks, so I put a spoon in the sack. I hope that’s okay.” I told her it was okay.
When I got to the office and opened the bag, there was one of those long milkshake spoons inside! I’ve never tried to eat pancakes with a long milkshake spoon but, we all have to make “sacrifices” in dealing with the impact of the pandemic. Actually, I didn’t have to use the spoon. I have a whole desk drawer full of new plastic knives and forks that I’ve thrown in that drawer when I’ve received takeout food that didn’t require me to use utensils. (I knew that, some day, all those neatly wrapped plastic knives and forks would be put to good use.) If you are like me, it is difficult to throw some items away that I accumulate thinking that “someday I may need them.” That day arrived. One plastic fork down and a hundred more to go!!!
• NICE to see the Chicago Bears win a game that was played against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Bears have been so bad this year (lost five straight before the Thanks-giving game) that I actually welcomed an area television station breaking into a recent game with an emergency weather report that took up most of the second half! I don’t remember what the weather-alert was about, but I’m sure it was something serious. It was more interesting than watching the Bears game! (I never thought I would ever say that.)
• WHEN I was driving home one evening last week the song “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” came on the radio and it was so nice to hear some Christmas music. There’s just something great about the traditional Christmas songs that we hear. Maybe, since I’m older, part of the reason I enjoy them, is that I can understand the words. A lot of music produced today is difficult for me to understand and, in some of the songs, where I can understand the words, I wish I didn’t because they take a person down instead of lifting spirits. I like music that makes me feel better about mankind, instead of music that distorts life with negative lyrics. But…that’s just me. I love traditional Christmas music and the cheer and hope they bring.
• DOWNTOWN has a lot of Christmas lights shining brightly when I arrive at the office every morning — and I also appreciate all of the lights in front of the Macon County Courthouse which is less than a block away from my office. This year’s Decatur Christmas Parade will be held on December 4th and will begin on South Franklin street and follow the traditional parade route north to North Street, North Street to Main Street and head south back through downtown. The parade will start at 4:30 p.m.
For many years the parade was held Saturday morning, but several years ago it was decided to hold it in the late afternoon where all the Christmas lights in the parade would look much more impressive. About all the people I have talked with like the late afternoon parade when itis getting dark. it was decided to hold it in the late afternoon when all the Christmas lights in the parade would look much more impressive. About all the people I have talked with like the late afternoon parade.
• HALL OF FAME — Last week, the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce and the City of Decatur added two more community members to the Decatur Hall of Fame. One of the new inductees is Dr. Jeanelle Norman. When Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe announced Dr. Norman’s induction, she summed up many reasons for the honor by stating, “Dr. Norman does more than talk about problems, she works with others to solve them.”
Dr. Norman is the current president of the NAACP Decatur branch. She worked with the Decatur Police Department to establish an Area Leaders Educators Response Team (ALERT) to help the city navigate through officer-involved shootings and other issues. She also has placed a major focus on education, creating the Drop-Out Task Force to address the high drop-out rate of African Americans in Decatur Public Schools.
Mayor Moore Wolfe also announced Kevin Breheny as an inductee. She called him “one of our community’s greatest supporters” who “rallies people to turn possibilities into realities. Breheny has helped lobby Washington and Springfield for road projects, telling the story of why Decatur’s projects deserve funding. He has also been instrumental in continuing the revitalization and expansion of HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital. Over the last 3 decades, Breheny has spearheaded multiple fundraising efforts, including the world’s largest one day food drive, financial support for the Oasis Day Shelter, and numerous other charities.
Typically, there is only one inductee to the Hall of Fame each year. Since the ceremony was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Chamber and the city decided to honor two people to make up for that lost year.
• CONGRATULATIONS to Kevin and Jeanelle on the well-deserved honor. I’ve known both of them for many years and have always appreciated my relationship with them. Jeanelle was a frequent guest on my “Newsline” daily television program on WFHL-TV in the 1980s, appearing to discuss community and Decatur School District issues. She was the first black woman to serve as president of the Decatur Board of Education and has been a tireless worker in the battle for equality. We also had quite-a-bit of contact during the years I served as mayor and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her continuing work to make Decatur a better community for everybody.
• I’VE KNOWN Kevin for as long as I’ve known Jeanelle and I’ve always appreciated our relationship and his positive efforts for Decatur and Central Illinois. He spends a lot of time building up and praising the efforts of those who work hard to make Decatur a better, more caring place. Kevin is always ready to step in and lend a hand, and financial support, to efforts that benefit all of the people in the community. Jeanelle and Kevin were excellent choices for the Hall of Fame.
• I’M ALSO pleased to see that some of the recent members inducted into the Hall of Fame are still alive to receive the award and know how much the community appreciates them. The Hall of Fame was dormant for a number of years and I’m not sure why, but my elected successor, Mayor Mike “Tuna” McElroy revived the honor and stopped by my office at the newspaper in June of 2014 to announce its revival. He said that the late William “Bill” Eichenauer and I were going to be honored. I still remember how stunned I was to be chosen for the honor and it was a triple honor because Bill Eichenauer, a longtime friend and promoter of Millikin and Decatur, was going into the Hall of Fame at the same time — and Tuna, who was my closest ally on the city council when I was mayor, was doing the honoring.
I will have to admit that, after receiving the honor, I looked at all of the other images of men and women whose plaques were hanging in the civic center and it dawned on me that I was about the only one who was still alive. Since 2014, others have been inducted each year, except last year because of the pandemic, and both those who have passed on and those who are still with us have been honored. It’s nice to honor those who have passed on so that their families and friends, and the whole community, can know how much they did and are still appreciated. It’s also good to honor those who are still with us so that we can let them know how much they are appreciated.
• THIS column began on the front page by pointing out that the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor will be next Tuesday, Dec. 7th. Locally, there will be a Pearl Harbor Remembrance 2021 presented by the Veteran’s Assistance Commission of Macon County and the Macon County Honor Guard. The service will be held in front of the Beach House at 1201 E. Lake Shore Drive (Lakefront) beginning at 10:00 a.m. Guest speaker will be James Keith of the U. S. Army retired.
• CONGRATS to The Decatur Area Convention & Visitor Bureau of Illinois and The Community Foundation of Macon County that held a ceremony Saturday to open up the Decatur Transfer House after completion of 18 months of renovation. It is presently serving as the new home for Santa to greet the children of the community during the Christmas season. Thanks to all the workers on this project. The Transfer House is alive again. It looks great!!!!!
• AS ANOTHER article on this website indicates, this was the last year for the WSOY Community Food Drive — the top fundraising event in our community for the past 20 years. The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon, along with other fundraising distribution news. Although it came as a surprise to me, there is a great sense of pride for what has been accomplished, and the number of people and families helped, over the past 20 years.
Thank you to Brian Byers, Kevin Breheny and countless volunteers and contributors who made the WSOY Community Food Drive an annual event for our history books.
I had the pleasure to appear and be interviewed at each of the 20 annual drives before, after and during the time I was mayor of Decatur. It was an event that spoke volumes about the people of Central Illinois and their concern for others and I was always excited to be a small part of it.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m.