On Dec. 7, 1941, The Item headlines stated that the Empire of Japan had attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. "The White House acknowledged that a bloody toll of 3,000 American military had been killed and wounded in the …
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On Dec. 7, 1941, The Item headlines stated that the Empire of Japan had attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. "The White House acknowledged that a bloody toll of 3,000 American military had been killed and wounded in the Japanese attack on Honolulu."
Imperial Tokyo headquarters claimed smashing naval and air victories over the United States. On Dec. 8, 1941, Congress voted a formal declaration of war against Japan after President Roosevelt requested immediate action as an answer to Japan's "unprovoked and dastardly attack on Hawaii."
Thus, the country entered World War II and began rapid preparation for the conflict. Sumter, like thousands of other communities across the nation, made preparations for conflict. An article published in The Sumter Daily Item detailed the steps implemented by this community, and it will be reprinted with a modicum of editing.
Sumter prepares for war
"Public utilities, public buildings, railroads and highways in Sumter were being guarded by soldiers from Shaw Field and detachments from Fort Jackson. Shaw Field was also under strict guard immediately following the attack, and no person was being admitted without an official pass. All city officials were put on the alert. Two soldiers were stationed at the overhead bridge at the end of South Main Street, two were stationed at the city waterworks and one at the courthouse. The railroads also were being closely guarded."
On the outskirts of the city, at the junction of U.S. 76 and 521, guards were stationed, two on each highway and two at the Clayton Lowder Store. Sgt. Safferman of Company K, 128th Field Artillery, which has been stationed at Fort Jackson, told a member of the Item staff that 200 men from his outfit were on guard duty in the district of which Sumter is a part. The sergeant himself was stationed at the courthouse.
"Orders were dispatched from the mayor's office to members of the police and to the fire department to be on the alert for any trouble that might arise. Industrial leaders were also warned to be on the lookout for disorder in what the mayor described as 'simply a precautionary measure.' At county police headquarters, a telegram was received from Gov. Harley advising the officers to be ready for any orders."
Life in the Sumter community forever changed on this day.
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