Across the nation that unforgettable Sunday, as the news of the Japanese early morning attack blared from the radios, and later some of the photos appeared in newspapers, the grim reality of the devastating death and destruction came to be realized.
But where was this Pearl Harbor?
Over the years, when interviewing WWII veterans, one of the questions I like to ask the men and women who vividly remember where there were on December 7, 1941 is, “Did you even know where Pearl Harbor was before the war broke out.”
Most answer, “No!”
John Beyer, who later became a pilot and flew off of aircraft carriers in the Pacific, was listening to the radio with his brother in their home in Wisconsin. He remembers that they were eating chicken sandwiches and put them down to get the Encyclopedia Britannica off the shelf and looked up Pearl Harbor.
His wife Ginny was a freshmen and student librarian in college, yet had no idea of the location. She remembers that soon after the attack and war was declared, there were very few men left in any classes, until the Air Corps Cadets arrived.
My father, Joe Frisino, had already enlisted in the Signal Corps in the Army, but no one in his company knew of the exact location. So, they studied maps.
Of course, there were those who were well aware of the location. “The Pink Palace” the Royal Hawaiian had their grand opening in 1927, while the Moano Hotel, “The First Lady of Waikiki” opened in 1901 to lure the wealthy tourist to the enchanted islands. They were the only two large hotels in existence on Waikiki at that time.
Some men of the sea were well versed in the Islands. In the spring of 1910 The Schooner Samoa entered Chico Bay in Washington State to take a full load of lumber to Hawaii to be used to build the dock at Pearl Harbor.
And then there were those who had friends and family already stationed at Oahu, Hawaii.
I finally happened on Barbara Stewart Bradford, (pictured right), who, as a young woman, along with other Seminary Students in Utah, packed Thanksgiving boxes for the service men and sent some to Pearl Harbor. Alas, she had friends at Pearl who were among the approximate 2,403 American’s who lost their lives. This number did not include the almost 1,200 injured.
In this highly technical world we live in it is hard to envision that without the TV, computers or IPhones, world news was limited to radio and newspapers. The world was large and unknown for the most part.
However, the “Day of Infamy” radically changed the United States isolationism and our lives forever.