“Remember Pearl Harbor” Weathervane (MO 2005.377)

Tomorrow, December 7, marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In the early morning hours of that December Sunday in 1941, Japan unleashed a devastating surprise attack on American military installations in the Pacific. The worst blow came at Hawaii, site of the giant Pearl Harbor naval base and other American military installations. In just two hours, Japanese bombers destroyed or damaged 21 American naval vessels and over 300 aircraft. The attacks resulted in the deaths of over 2400 military personnel and civilians, and shattered the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“Remember Pearl Harbor” quickly became a rallying cry for Americans as the nation entered World War II.  The expression appeared frequently in the press, on posters, and in other media throughout the war. These words were also incorporated into hand-made items produced by everyday Americans. Some sent their handiworks to the President as gifts. This painted cast iron weathervane was made by Claude C. Ferdinand of Hawthorne, New Jersey shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack. Mr. Ferdinand sent his weathervane to FDR on January 27, 1942. It links the American cause in World War II to an earlier conflict—the American Revolution—by depicting two iconic figures from the American Revolution flanking an American eagle and a “V” for victory symbol. On the right is the figure of the Minuteman, immortalized in a famous statue that stands at the site of the Battle of Concord in Massachusetts. The figure on the left is Molly Pitcher, who is shown stoking a cannon at the Battle of Monmouth, which was fought in New Jersey in 1778.