Thursday, May 11, 2006

"...brief moment of world attention..."

Photo by Robb LambNorth Dakota was...the site of one of the first publicized actions taken in favor of the Allies. This came to the world’s attention when some unusual photographs appeared in early 1940, showing, of all things, a few airplanes being pulled by a horse team across the Canadian border near Pembina, North Dakota.

My mother was a senior in high school in 1940, when the event the quote above happened. She showed me photos she had taken herself of the event. She got the basic facts right, too, from what I recently learned. But the broader story is even more interesting than the overview.

A regional historian, Tom Shoptaugh, wrote an article about 12 or so year ago, that fills in the details...
The transport of military aircraft at Pembina...provided evidence that another belief was no longer valid: the oceans could not provide enough distance to protect America from harm. If Hudsons could be flown in stages from California to England, then it could not be long before other, perhaps hostile, bombers could fly over American soil. In December 1941, Japanese aircraft did just that, putting an end to the myths of American isolation and security.

Pembina’s brief moment of world attention, then, was part of the demise of American innocence. Neither the small town nor the great nation could remain isolated from the course of world events in modern times.