War Becomes a Reality
On the afternoon of December 7, North Dakota Senator Gerald P. Nye, one of the most vocal members of America First, was scheduled to speak in the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh. The hall was filled to its capacity of 2,500.
Robert Nagy of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette went to cover the speech and took along copies of the wire service stories about the attacks at Pearl Harbor and Manila. He was in for an interesting afternoon because Senator Nye loved to attack President Roosevelt's lend-lease program and the steady buildup of America's arsenal; he did not like to hear anything that might change his mind.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 3 P.M., just about the time the second and final wave of Japanese planes was breaking off the attack and leaving Pearl Harbor for their carriers. Nobody in the auditorium knew of the attack. Nagy found Senator Nye in a tiny room backstage with two other speakers, Irene Castle McLaughlin, widow of Vernon Castle, the famous dancer who was killed in World War I, and the Pittsburgh America First chairman, John B. Gordon.
When Nye read the news reports Nagy handed him, his first comment became one of a dozen or so uttered that day which will probably live forever: "It sounds terribly fishy to me."
Nye did not want to believe what he was reading, and probably felt as though part of the reason for his existence was being taken away from him. He turned to Nagy almost pleadingly: "Can't we have some details? Is it sabotage or is it an open attack?" Then he directed his anger where