As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century. This week’s message is shared by committee member Jerry Thain:
December 7, 2012, marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II. The first Club newsletter following the attack carried this:
We’re All In Service Now
In opening the meeting of the Rotary Club last Thursday President Leon Smith said, “Since we met a week ago war has been declared as you all know, with Japan, and this morning with Italy and Germany. I have been in correspondence with the President of a Rotary Club in the British Isles and he has declared that ‘one of the best ways to maintain morale is to not disturb the routine of habits of the people.’ If each one of us will each day do the best we know how in our personal, business and social activities to aid in the defense of our country it will help materially to maintain the morale.”
The following week’s newsletter reported an address to the Club by George S. Whyte of Kenosha, a “past District Governor and prominent manufacturer who had been scheduled to speak on ‘Defense’ but in wake of war being declared spoke instead on:
When President Smith sounded the gavel, calling the meeting to order, a sextette standing in the doorway at the end of the room sang “Silent Night” and then Ray Dvorak led all in singing “Loch Lomond” in honor of the speaker, who was born in Scotland, and then called on George to sing the second and third verses, which he did in real Scotch dialect. Annie Laurie was then sung as further compliment to George.
It is regretted that George’s address cannot be printed in full. He spoke of the armistice signed on November 11, 1918, to end all wars; the Treaty of Versailles; League of Nations; and the disarmament program, which the democracies adhered to while Germany was re-arming for the present war. It was not until June 1940 that the first of the huge appropriation bills for rearmament was passed by Congress but the actual orders did not begin flowing to industry until near the end of 1940. “It was last December,” he said, “that Mr. Knudsen informed industry of the terrible urgency, and industry responded with sharp increases in every phase of defense production. On May 27, 1941, President Roosevelt declared an unlimited emergency.
“Industry has been accused of fostering the war spirit. This is positively untrue. Industry abhors war and always opposed it. Manufacturers know the price of it in blood, sweat and tears. Thousands of today’s manufacturers were in the last war and know the cost in terms of depression—resulting in extended unemployment. War-time profits—when they are made—are lost many times over in the period of economic maladjustment which always follows a big war.”
Also in the same newsletter was an item entitled “We Need Rotary Now” which took note of the Club in the days of World War I as well as in the new conflict.