Saturday, December 07, 2013

Postmarked December 7, 1941

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 Harbor."

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 fellow servicemen.

"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.
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posted by Don Schilling at 8:00 AM