By Bob Groeneveld
You’d think 2020 should naturally be the year of perfect hindsight.
But world events so far this year suggest that it takes more than a good set of glasses.
Lest you despair, here’s a peek at how well Langley prepared itself in the past that may lie ahead as US President Donald Trump turns the clock back nearly a century.
Just days after the infamous Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbour that steeled American courage to take a side in the Second World War, Langley mayor Alex Hope assured local residents that it was not illegal to hold public meetings under wartime black-out regulations implemented by the Ministry of Defence.
Later that week, however, Langley residents were reticent to leave their homes, and only 886 of 3,348 eligible voters turned out for civic elections. Hope was returned as mayor with 790 votes.
Within days, air raid wardens and their deputies organized plans to meet any attempts by the Japanese to invade Langley. The mayor was able to report that Brookswood’s Air Raid Protection Service was already getting well organized.
All threats were being considered, not just sneak attacks with bombs that go boom. The Air Raid Protection Squad, as the wardens and deputies named themselves, met in Langley Theatre for training in dealing with incendiary bombs.
By the end of May, a Langley-wide war black-out exercise was held… and the wardens deemed it a success.
Meanwhile, Langley recognized the importance of the economics of war, both militaristic and humanitarian. While local businesses and individuals regularly surpassed war bond targets, Langley exceeded its Red Cross quota of $2,500 by 28 percent (nearly a million today, adjusted for inflation and population increase).
Crates of first aid and other air raid protection equipment arrived for deployment in Langley’s air raid posts, and before Pearl Harbour was a year old, Aldergrove had a special firefighting force “equipped with an air raid protection pump… to meet the threat of possible incendiary attacks by the enemy.”
Similar provisions were planned for Fort Langley.
A new three-horsepower electric air raid siren was installed on the top of Athletic Hall in Langley Prairie.
To ensure the general population was imbued with the appropriate mindset, an air raid protection demonstration was held on the Langley Athletic grounds as a climax to Home Preparedness Week in Langley.
Langley shops and businesses happily reorganized their opening hours in compliance with recommendation from the Division of Simplified Practices of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board.
And of course, all residents whose ancestry suggested questionable allegiance to Canada were rounded up, their possessions seized, and sent to concentration… er, internment… camps in the Interior and Alberta.
What fun, eh?
Or we could wax nostalgic about war preparations in 1950s Langley – radiation counts, duck-and-cover drills, government pamphlets on bomb survival techniques and bomb shelters, post-bomb first aid and economic restructuring plans – as Trump faces down the forces of Impeachment… er, Iran.