The 1940 s brought forth a huge battle, otherwise known as World War II. Millions of men were killed because they risked their lives fighting for their country. Many families were extremely affected by the outcome of this war. While millions of people were being drafted to fight, there were many who opposed.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and within days England and France declared a war on Germany. Throughout the next couple of weeks, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and India, joined in on the war. On September 3, 1940, the United States transferred 50 overage destroyers to Great Britain, and in return got year leases on sites for air and naval bases in the British possessions of Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Newfoundland.
In October of 1940, the United States adopted peacetime compulsory military service for the first time in it s history. On December 7, 1941, the Japenese attacked Pearl Harbor, hawaii. This two hour attack came without warning and killed more than 2,800 people. Eight battleships were sunk, and most of the United States planes were destroyed. Following this attack, the Japenese declared war against the United States and Great Britain.
On January 1, 1942, the twenty-six nations which were then at war, joined in a declaration in which they pledged united efforts and no separate peace until victory was gained.
In a Pawcatuck, Connecticut, John Lombardo, age 30, and Ida Lombardo, age 22, had no idea what was in store for them. They both grew up in this quiet town, and were extremely close to both families.
In the midst of drafting millions of United States men and women into the war, my great uncle, John Lombardo refused. John was called for induction in the armed forces on January 10, 1942, but refused.
He had religious beliefs which went against killing. Therefore he had no choice but to stand up for his beliefs, even if it meant time in jail. John was an ordained minister for the Jehova Witnesses, and was one of the few who was not exempt from the war. Most all of the other ministers were exempt from the war without punishment, but not him. John Lombardo, at the age of 30, went to court many times, until he was given a sentence for two years in a Federal Penetantuary in Danbury Connecticut.
For the two years he was there, he had to work everyday as a truck driver. Himself and a couple of other men had to go out in the woods and cut down trees, and make them into logs. After their long day of work, they
returned to the Penetentuary where they were to eat dinner, and had to attend bible studies, and ministry school.
Throughout all of this, his wife Ida Lombardo was lonely and devestated. She was only allowed to visit her husband for one hour every month. She traveled an hour and a half every two weeks for a half hour every visit. Which was only long enough to hear his voice, and to see his face. They were not allowed to embrace eachother in any was, not even a small kisss.
While John was in jail, his wife Ida had to find some type of job in order to pay bills, rent, and have some extra money left over for gas and food. She began working in a factory in Westerly, Rhode Island, as a seamstress. All of the women she worked with had husbands or children who were off in the war, fighting to protect our country. They all knew about the situation with her husband and tried not to make her feel uncomfortable.
His protest made all of the local newspapers, in which the new and recent updates on the case such as, Lombardo is Given 2 Years, Pawcatuck man is Sentenced for Envading Draft Law, (The Westerly Sun) were reported.
Once John was released from the Penetentuary, he was given a one year probation sentence. He was required to report to the police station anytime he wanted to leave the state. Finding a job was now extremely difficult for John because he had a record of not going to war. All of the men and women coming back from the war were given priorities for jobs.
While Ida had to deal with loosing her husband for two years she still couldn t forget about her twin brothers, Nate and Pat, who were out fighting for their country. Nate was in the army, while Pat was in the navy.
The two men would write letters to their family at home telling them where they went and where they were headed.
Pats ship came to port in the Phillipines, not knowing that his brother was stationed on this island as well. The two brothers happened to run
into each other and didn t want to leave the others site. Pat was a cook on the navy boat, so he took Nate on board and gave him some real food. The two had to part and continue on with their troops to whereever the next stop would be. They dreamt of the day they d be sent home to meet again.
Nate arrived home before Pat did. They were both so fortunate to make it back physically unharmed. They also were there for John s two year sentence to come to an end. Nate shook John s hand and told him how much he admired him for standing up for himself, and his religion. Nate also vowed to never again fight in any war. Pat, on the other hand was on a waiting list for about one year after he returned. If a war broke out Pat would be drafted once again.
Ida remembers what it was like when she was reunited with her brothers and husband. She promised herself that she would never loose sight of her husband for so long again. She also remembers what it was like the
day the war ended. She remembers everyone getting out of work, the news channels were constantly filled with more information on the outcome of the war. But the one thing that stands out most vigorously in her mind was the constant ringing of the church bell all across town, and how magical it sounded.