One of the artifacts in the Smithsonian's Delivering Hope: FDR and Stamps of the Great Depression
is an envelope postmarked December 7, 1941.
According to the writeup, "Private John R. Rion inadvertently left a mark
on postal history by mailing an envelope from Honolulu, Hawaii,
postmarked on December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl
It goes on to say, "On December 6, 1941, Rion
dropped an oversize envelope at the Honolulu post office, destined for
his business partner back home in Perry, Iowa. Rion and his friend
operated a barbershop. The envelope contained a photograph of a lovely
young Hawaiian woman in a grass skirt with floral leis but no message.
No message was necessary. Life in 'paradise' suited Rion, who spent
his days cutting hair, trimming mustaches and beards, and shaving his
"The next morning -- December 7, 1941 -- the Honolulu post office
cancelled Rion’s envelope at 8 a.m., the exact time that Japanese
torpedo planes struck nearby Pearl Harbor and the unprepared U.S. Navy
battleship force. The harbor filled with flames and smoke as Japanese
bombs sank five of eight battleships and destroyed other ships and
combat planes. Over 2,400 Americans died."
To read the entire article and view other items in the online exhibit, click here