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Thursday, June 21, 2018

A thin fragment of moon stood watch that Christmas Eve as the president of the United States and the prime minister of Great Britain came out onto the South Portico of the White House. They were there to light the national Christmas tree — and to speak a holiday greeting to an uncertain world.

Two and a half weeks before — and 70 years ago today (Dec. 7) — the Japanese had devastated the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. A nation that had endured 12 grinding years of economic catastrophe was now plunged into a maelstrom of worldwide war. It was Christmas in time of turmoil, a season of brotherhood and peace under the shadow of genocide and war — and it fell to these two men to help the nation and the world make sense of that.