Below are the first-hand accounts of local residents who lived through Pearl Harbor and the events surrounding the start of the war. They recount how their lives changed and how the country moved ahead in the days and years following the war.
It defined us as a people. No one saw it coming. Few even knew exactly where Oahu was. But it's a day that dramatically changed America forever.
In less than two hours, the United States transformed from being a remote spectator to full throttle ahead in fighting World War II.
Pearl Harbor Day was a landmark moment. It changed the direction of the war, woke a sleeping giant and united us as this country had never been before.
They had so much to celebrate. A new baby, their first. They were thrilled, like all new parents.
And yet, just five days later, a dark cloud of foreboding hovered over their lives.
My husband, Don, was born in Chicago on Dec. 2, 1941, five days before Pearl Harbor.
They don’t talk about how scared they were or dwell on the carnage many would later see or how much they would sacrifice and how courageous they were.
But, to a person, they would never forget how that day seared into their marrow.
With little time to pack and prepare to leave their homes, many Japanese families hastily sold belongings for whatever price they could.
Some managed to store items for later, unsure they would ever see them again.
A warm stillness graced McCoy Cemetery one recent afternoon when Carla George placed flowers atop the grave of highly decorated war hero Louis Cloud.
Cloud was among 241 Yakama tribal members who were swept into World War II when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Just before boarding two trains to Portland in early June, they collectively sent a letter, signed “Valley Evacuees,” to the editor of the Wapato Independent.
“We, Japanese evacuees of this valley, are extending our hands in farewell to all our faithful friends, who have done their part in making our departure from all our life’s work less miserable,” it read.
“I was getting ready to crawl into bed when the master-at-arms came and rolled us out and said: ‘Get down to the hangar, the Japanese are attacking us,’” Dry remembered.
“I got down there in time to see the damage they’d done, but they were gone by the time I got there.”
A16-3(1)/UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEETAIRCRAFT, SCOUTING FORCEPATROL WING ONE O2 FLEET AIR DETACHMENTNaval Air StationKaneohe Bay, T.H.1 January 1942.