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On December 7th, 1941, the wealthy Mrs. Stella Hadley celebrates her birthday just as she always has, surrounded by her closest family and friends: her hard-drinking son Theodore, down-to-earth daughter Patricia, flighty best friend, Cecilia Talbot, her physician, Dr. Leonard V. Meecham, and old admirer, Elliott Fulton, who has a high position in the War Department. As Elliott says, Stella lives in an "ivory tower," refusing to pay attention to world affairs or read The Chronicle , the newspaper formerly owned by her late husband. When the radio is turned on, they hear the news of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, but Stella maintains that her life should not change, just because of a war. On Christmas Eve, Stella is annoyed that Ted has to work for Elliott. When she telephones Elliott to complain, he apologizes, even though Ted has lied about working late. Elliott then decides that a tour of active duty would be good for Ted. Meanwhile, Bennett, the family butler, secretly becomes an air raid warden, and Patricia works at a servicemen's canteen where she meets soldier Michael Fitzpatrick. They are attracted to each other, but when Mike drives her home, he is concerned over Pat's obvious wealth. She convinces him that he is a snob, and the two begin to fall in love. Some time later, when Ted is drafted, Stella tries to convince Elliott to get him out of it, but he refuses, prompting her to tell him that she never wants to see him again. Though reluctant to be inducted at first, Ted finally determines to do his duty and soon is thriving in the Army. At the same time, Cecilia has secretly joined a women's First Aid group headed by Stella's rival, Laura Winters, whose husband, a strong Democrat, purchased the formerly Republican Chronicle . On a visit to Ted's army camp Stella is chagrined to find that he has become friendly with Mike, who used to work in the Chronicle 's ad department, and has also become very close to Laura's son Tony. Back at home, when Pat tells Stella that Mike is soon to be transferred to Phoenix and has proposed, Stella forbids their marriage. Trying to persuade her mother, Pat says that Elliott approves of Mike, but Stella is so angered by Pat's apparent disloyalty that she sends her away. Stella then feigns one of her "attacks" and has Bennett call Elliott's apartment to summon Pat, but Pat knows that her mother is merely faking and refuses to go to her. Some time later, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, Mike's kindly Irish-American mother, goes to see Stella and tells her that Mike and Pat will be married in the Catholic Church a few days later. Stella acts rudely and snobbishly toward Mrs. Fitzpatrick and after she leaves, goes to talk with Cecilia, thinking that she is home ill. When she finds that Cecilia is hosting a first aid class headed by Laura, Stella angrily departs, finally cutting herself off from almost everyone who cares for her. As the weeks pass, Stella hears nothing from Ted, who has been shipped to the Pacific, then finally receives a letter saying he is fine. That same day, Bennett brings in one of the newspapers, which reveals that Ted is a hero and has just been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Fitzpatrick arrives to talk about their impending grandchild. Stella is hurt not to have heard from Pat, but brightens when she receives Pat's telegram. Just then, reporters barge in asking for an interview about Ted, but Stella snobbishly refuses until one reporter says that Laura was kind enough to speak with them, even though Tony's DSC is being awarded posthumously. Now realizing how selfish she has been, Stella goes to Laura and reads her Ted's letter in which he talked about how much his friendship with Tony meant to him. Laura then tells Stella that they must all work together so that the deaths of young men like her son will not be in vain. Back at her home, Stella is touched that President Roosevelt took the time to send her a personal note, hand-delivered by Elliott. The two reconcile, and several months later, after they have married, the home is busy with war-related activities, which Stella coordinates with Laura, Cecilia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick. Finally, Mrs. Fitzpatrick has to pry Stella away from Elliott and her war work so they can both get to Phoenix before the birth of Pat's baby.