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Vet saves headline of Pearl Harbor bombing
MARYSVILLE — As the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor approaches Dec. 7, Marysville resident Art Olsen has taken care to preserve the one artifact that he has of it, besides his own memory.
Olsen is a World War II Army veteran whose grandson recently completed his service in the Marine Corps, and in 1941, he was living in Chicago. For nearly 68 years, he’s saved the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune that he received Dec. 8, 1941, reporting that the U.S. was at war.
“I ask a lot of kids now, and the date doesn’t ring a bell with them,” Olsen said. “It was a terrible shock to our nation. There was a lot of patriotism in those days. The flag meant so much. The sneak attack happened on a Sunday and by the next day President Roosevelt had declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy. Those were hectic days. You didn’t have the news media that we have today. It was a different era of communication.”
The ensuing war would see Olsen join the service in January of 1943 and be deployed, first to Sydney, Australia, then to the New Guinea region of the South Pacific theater.
“April 22, 1944 was the longest day of my life, when we hit that beachhead,” Olsen said. “I was 18 or 19 at the time and I was part of a convoy so large that, when you looked in front of you and behind you, all you could see were ships. Our aircraft had softened the area with some bombing.”
Olsen acknowledged his own naivete at the time, noting that World War I had originally been called “the war to end all wars,” and adding that he’d thought that WWII would mark the end of armed conflict.
“Of course, after that, we got Korea, Vietnam and today,” Olsen said. “This is the greatest nation on Earth, so I’d still defend it again, but it’s sad that we’ve lost so many.”