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What Was FDR Doing On the 'Date Which Will Live in Infamy'?

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December 7, 1941 was, famously, “a date which will live in infamy.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed it so at a Joint Session of Congress the following day, referring to the Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. Through official records, diary entries, and conversation transcriptions, we can piece together what the president was doing on the day that would bring the United States into WWII.

Tensions had been running high between the U.S. and Japan for at least a decade prior to the attacks. Upset by Japanese military expansion into China throughout the 1930s, the United States froze Japanese assets at home and refused to sell oil to the empire, actions that went into effect in July 1941.

Thanks to U.S cryptanalysts who cracked Japanese diplomatic code, American officials learned of Japanese troop buildup in November 1941. Roosevelt even sent a memo on December 1, one week prior to the attacks on Pearl Harbor, asking for more intel on the Japanese government's intentions, writing that “these increased forces in Indo-China would seem to imply the utilization of these forces by Japan for purposes of further aggression.” [PDF

On December 7, Japanese planes began air strikes on Pearl Harbor at 7:48 AM Hawaiian time, which was 12:48 PM in Washington, DC. According to his stenographer’s diary, Roosevelt was meeting with Chinese Ambassador Dr. Hu Shih at the White House then. Immediately after this meeting, FDR had lunch in the Oval Study with aide Harry L. Hopkins. During this lunch, at 1:40 PM ET, Roosevelt took a telephone call from the Secretary of the Navy, who alerted him that Pearl Harbor was under attack (and that it was definitely “no drill”).

The subsequent meetings held by and for the president can be seen in this copy of his stenographer’s diary, via the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library:

At 6:40 PM ET, FDR spoke on the phone with Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who had their conversation transcribed  [PDF]. During their talk, Morgenthau, who was in control of the Secret Service, said, “We are not going to let any Japanese leave the country or to carry on any communications,” to which the president replied, “I see.” Morgenthau also requested to put a “detail of soldiers on the White House grounds,” a suggestion at which Roosevelt balked. “You’ve doubled the guard,” he said, “That’s all you need. As long as you have one about every hundred feet around the fence, it’s all right.”

During his emergency cabinet meeting at 9:45 PM ET, Roosevelt presented, in broad strokes, what he was going to say to Congress the next day. A confrontation occurred when Secretary of State Cordell Hull disagreed with FDR’s plan to deliver such a brief speech. According to a diary entry from Agriculture Secretary Claude R. Wickard, Hull had said that “the most important war in 500 years deserved more than a short statement.” FDR ignored Hull, and he gave his heralded, barely seven-minute “Infamy” speech the next day anyway:

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What Makes a Cat's Tail Puff Up When It's Scared?
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Cats wear their emotions on their tails, not their sleeves. They tap their fluffy rear appendages during relaxing naps, thrash them while tense, and hold them stiff and aloft when they’re feeling aggressive, among other behaviors. And in some scary situations (like, say, being surprised by a cucumber), a cat’s tail will actually expand, puffing up to nearly twice its volume as its owner hisses, arches its back, and flattens its ears. What does a super-sized tail signify, and how does it occur naturally without help from hairspray?

Cats with puffed tails are “basically trying to make themselves look as big as possible, and that’s because they detect a threat in the environment," Dr. Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss. The “threat” in question can be as major as an approaching dog or as minor as an unexpected noise. Even if a cat isn't technically in any real danger, it's still biologically wired to spring to the offensive at a moment’s notice, as it's "not quite at the top of the food chain,” Delgado says. And a big tail is reflexive feline body language for “I’m big and scary, and you wouldn't want to mess with me,” she adds.

A cat’s tail puffs when muscles in its skin (where the hair base is) contract in response to hormone signals from the stress/fight or flight system, or sympathetic nervous system. Occasionally, the hairs on a cat’s back will also puff up along with the tail. That said, not all cats swell up when a startling situation strikes. “I’ve seen some cats that seem unflappable, and they never get poofed up,” Delgado says. “My cats get puffed up pretty easily.”

In addition to cats, other animals also experience piloerection, as this phenomenon is technically called. For example, “some birds puff up when they're encountering an enemy or a threat,” Delgado says. “I think it is a universal response among animals to try to get themselves out of a [potentially dangerous] situation. Really, the idea is that you don't have to fight because if you fight, you might lose an ear or you might get an injury that could be fatal. For most animals, they’re trying to figure out how to scare another animal off without actually going fisticuffs.” In other words, hiss softly, but carry a big tail.

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What Happened to the Physical Copy of the 'I Have a Dream' Speech?
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On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech for the ages, delivering the oratorical masterpiece "I Have a Dream" to nearly 250,000 people.

When he was done, King stepped away from the podium, folded his speech, and found himself standing in front of George Raveling, a former Villanova basketball player who, along with his friend Warren Wilson, had been asked to provide extra security around Dr. King while he was speaking. "We were both tall, gangly guys," Raveling told TIME in 2003. "We didn't know what we were doing but we certainly made for a good appearance."

Moved by the speech, Raveling saw the folded papers in King’s hands and asked if he could have them. King gave the young volunteer the speech without hesitation, and that was that.

“At no time do I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we got this historic document,’” Raveling told Sports Illustrated in 2015. Not realizing he was holding what would become an important piece of history in his hands, Raveling went home and stuck the three sheets of paper into a Harry Truman biography for safekeeping. They sat there for nearly two decades while Raveling developed an impressive career coaching NCAA men’s basketball.

In 1984, he had recently taken over as the head coach at the University of Iowa and was chatting with Bob Denney of the Cedar Rapids Gazette when Denney brought up the March on Washington. That's when Raveling dropped the bomb: “You know, I’ve got a copy of that speech," he said, and dug it out of the Truman book. After writing an article about Raveling's connection, the reporter had the speech professionally framed for the coach.

Though he displayed the framed speech in his house for a few years, Raveling began to realize the value of the piece and moved it to a bank vault in Los Angeles. Though he has received offers for King’s speech—one collector wanted to purchase the speech for $3 million in 2014—Raveling has turned them all down. He has been in talks with various museums and universities and hopes to put the speech on display in the future, but for now, he cherishes having it in his possession.

“That to me is something I’ll always be able to look back and say I was there,” Raveling said in the original Cedar Rapids Gazette article. “And not only out there in that arena of people, but to be within touching distance of him. That’s like when you’re 80 or 90 years old you can look back and say ‘I was in touching distance of Abraham Lincoln when he made the Gettysburg Address.’"

“I have no idea why I even asked him for the speech,” Raveling, now CEO of Coaching for Success, has said. “But I’m sure glad that I did.”

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