Christmas, 1944

The snow lay white again upon the stony soil of New England, the grey distances of the plains, the towering Western mountains; once more poinsettias bloomed in the South's red soil. In Boston's fabled Louisburg Square, and in every other U.S. city and hamlet, carolers would sing this week below candlelit windows.

This would be the fourth U.S. wartime Christmas. The first already seemed as if it had been in another decade. On Christmas Eve, 1941, antiaircraft guns were set up in the backyards of West Coast cities. San Antonio's telephone system was...

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