Today marks the 73rd anniversary of the day the United States was launched into World War II. It was a surprise to all but those who were expecting an an act of war against our country. The date itself turned out to catch even the military at Pearl Harbor unaware, when Japanese planes bombed the Naval base on Sunday morning, December 7. President Roosevelt was to give that day a name: the Day of Infamy.
I will give an account of that time as it affected me and my family, from this excerpt from my book, Rachel’s Children: Surviving the Second World War (All Things That Matter Press, 2010). It is found on pages 9-10 of the book.
“Children in American territories joined their counterparts around the world, by spending the next few years in a climate of war and its accompanying horrors. It was not a time of glory, no matter how many patriotic speeches would be delivered, no matter how many inspiring songs were sung and encouraging prayers offered. It was instead, a time of war.
“My own experience as an eight-year-old in Honolulu was shared with classmates many times after my mother, brother and I returned to the “mainland.” My father remained in Hawaii where he was a pathologist with the Army Medical Corps. After the attack, he was to continue his service as Commanding Officer of the North Sector Tripler General Hospital. He remained at that post until the end of the war, when he was assigned to the Army hospital at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn, NY. By then I was in grade 7B at Public School 104, and wrote an essay during that time about my experience of the December 7th day in Hawaii.”
From a poem in my book:
Black smoke on a Sunday morning,
planes appear from the sea
to interrupt the December weekend.
Sirens scream through streets
indiscriminate of homes and buildings
where Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian
and wahine neighbored. Church bells
call worshipers to services while whine
of bullets and flash of light accent
the morning bright with hope transformed
into fearful surprise.