Skip to main content


My son just came into the room while I sit here writing, and I asked him if he had ever studied Pearl Harbor in school yet. He hasn't - he's working through the Revolution and Civil War this year - so I motioned for him to sit down - insert tween eye roll accompanied by a sarcastic, "Mom! It's Friday! Do I have to learn now?"

Sit down kid.

I began to briefly...oh so briefly...explain the events of Pearl Harbor to my 12 year old, accompanied by the old photos I had found, noticed he wasn't impressed (seriously, do you see this ship on fire and sinking?), and quickly brought up an aerial image of the memorial where you can actually see the USS Arizona underneath the surface of the water. THAT impressed him.

Oy. 12 year olds.

"...December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese government also launched as attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. . .

Source: Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

What does that word "INFAMY" mean? *abomination, atrocity, evil, outrageousness, scandal, villainy, wickedness*

All words that describe the events of this day 71 years ago.

National Archives/Getty Images -
The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941
I am quickly reminded that in December 1941, my grandfather was a young 17 year old living in Hawaii...well, I think he was. I know he was born there, but I'm not entirely sure when he left to come to the mainland. I didn't meet my Grandpa Wright until maybe 1978 or 1979, I was just a youngster and grandma had a new "friend" at work. A new friend who was a dark-skinned, straight from the islands, Hawaiian man. All of his family was still living on the islands at the time, but here he was in Northwest Ohio with us. We all kind-of wondered about his life, and my parents tried to get him to open up, but the most we ever found out was that he had come from a large family with many brothers and sisters.

He also told us that after the attack on Pearl Harbor he worked with the Army Corp of Engineers. That's it. No details. He would clam up and say no more. We assumed the memory of what had happened - what he may have been witness to - that it was too vivid in his memory, too disturbing for him to want to share any more. So we never pushed. We never asked. We never found out.

Today I'm remembering my grandpa Wright. My historical inquisitiveness causes me to look at old photos from that day 71 years ago in fascination and wonder, trying to put emotions to what those living at that time may have felt as they experienced it. I think of his parents, and his many siblings who were on the islands as well, and the fear they most definitely felt at what was happening in the world around them.



Popular posts from this blog

January 1945

A handful of letters from a wife in Paris, Texas to her new husband at Camp Maxey- a distance of only a few miles separating them as he continues his training in the U.S. Army.

January 21, 1945
My Dearest Darling Husband,
     Darling I just don't know exactly how I want to start my letters to you cause there are so many sweet things I could call you and you mean so very much to me.  I love you Darling and you know it I'm sure and I'm telling you I get so lonesome for you I nearly drive myself batty trying to find something to occupy my time.  But I guess I'll manage.  I went to a show this evening about 5:00 and got home around 7:30.  I saw "Alone with a Lonly Heart" or something like that.  Carry Grant played in it But it sure was a dumb picture to my notion.

I wanted Myrtle to go with me but she was afraid Bob would come home and she didn't want to be gone if he came.  Well I don't want to be gone when you come in either but she things Bob would get ma…

Silent Night...

On Friday, I spent the afternoon at my kids' school watching my 1st grader and his classmates perform their Christmas concert for all of my fellow parents and grandparents.  First and Second Graders were singing together, bringing joy into the season. I watched them all, recognizing many of the faces, probably able to name most of them if I really thought long and hard enough.

Also on Friday, in Newtown, Connecticut, 20 five-year olds went to school with the excitement of Christmas being only days away.

I can't even begin to fathom 20 less angelic voices than those that I heard at my school.

Today there are Kindergarten students in Connecticut who had spent the past few months making new friends who should've been friends for life as classmates.  Tonight, they're crying wondering why nobody ever told them about these scary, sad days at school.

...because these scary, sad days aren't supposed to happen.  That's why.

Last night my 6 year old was puttering arou…

The Great Adventure

"Discover all the new horizons, just waiting to be explored. This is what we were created for.... Saddle up your horses, we've got a trail to blaze." **

Giddy-up, cowpokes!  I have just returned home energized and ready to dig in after a weekend at NY State PTA Summer Leadership Conference.  Added to that, it was a whole western theme, so I also have these images of cowboy hats and cowboy boots dancing in my head (so much for visions of sugarplums).
This year, I had my partner in crime with me.  She is the Thelma to my Louise.  In the past, we have travelled to New York City together for an eduction debate, and also attended New York State PTA Convention together.  When we travel together, the two of us will often brainstorm in such a way about PTA and what we can do better to accomplish more, and this trip was no different.  The two of us were in our natural element attending a weekend of leadership development and advocacy training with other like-minded PTA members.