It was a beautiful sunny morning in Southern California, and I was wearing the new red wool plaid suit which was supposed to be my Christmas present bought from money my Dad had sent, but even though it was only December 7th, I had wanted to wear it before the holidays. I loved it so much I wore it all the way through high school.
My Dad been gone for most of that year, the longest cruise yet, though we had no idea where he was. He could not tell us where his ship was and according to his censored V-mail letters he was “somewhere in the Pacific”, but we didn’t know where. It was apparent that there might be trouble sometime soon.
I remember the house smelling all warm and delicious from the cake my grandma had just taken from the oven for Sunday dinner. We had two girls who boarded with us and they were hurrying to get away to the beach for the day; I had just fed our dog, Wimpy, and put him outside, when I heard the crackle of the big Philco radio change from music to the voice of President Roosevelt saying that “this day will go down in infamy.” I had no idea what the word infamy meant.
Everyone gathered around the radio to hear the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I stupidly asked “where the heck is Pearl Harbor?” but no one else knew either, so we got out the large atlas and saw that it was “somewhere in the Pacific”, in the Hawaiian Islands.
We did not get the news until much later, that my Dad’s ship had been in Pearl Harbor, and was moored across the channel from the disastrous bombing of the USS Arizona. The majority of America’s major fleet, including the main battlewagons, were destroyed or badly damaged during the sneak attack.
It killed America’s isolationism, and made the American population determined to go to war and soon after, we joined Britain in fighting the war in Europe.
Having been out at sea for such a long time, they had come into the harbor to take on much needed food and water, but the attack happened before that could occur. Fortunately his ship suffered little damage.
He returned home for a brief week about a year later for minor repairs, but he would be at sea for another four years. Yes, I remember Pearl Harbor, and now I know where it is.