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Pearl Harbor Day - RonO's Ramblings

Dec. 7th, 2008 05:50 pm Pearl Harbor Day

While I cannot relate all that I've heard, largely due to a human (as opposed to super human) memory, but I have been involved in discussions with two people who have perspectives on the events of 67 years ago this morning that are not as commonly heard. That is the perspective of my mother and her cousin.

My mother was born in 1933 and lived on The Big Island until high school. She was almost 9 on that morning. She and her parents heard the whistle at the sugar mill at Pahala -- her father was the bookkeeper for the sugar plantation centered there -- making a funny noise. The islands were already somewhat on alert because of the war already brewing in the Pacific, so they -- probably correctly -- interpreted as a warning alarm. My mom and grandma sought shelter in a nearby lava tube while my grandpa went to do his civil defense duties. I don't recall more details, but I think that they pretty much rode out the attack, which was several hundred miles away on another island, in the lava tube.

She has more stories from the rest of the war. The one I remember the best was her mentioning that Mona Loa erupted during the war, and it was considered a security issue because the military was afraid that the Japanese could use the glow from the eruption to locate military targets for nighttime bombing. The entire territory was under a nighttime blackout, but there was little that could be done about the volcano.

Two or three years ago when my parents came for a visit, I joined them for a dinner at the Union League Club of Chicago with my mom's cousin who is a member there, a benefit from his days as a dean at the John Marshal School of Law. During the dinner the conversation came around to Pearl Harbor day.

My mom's cousin, Gilbert, is about ten years older and was living in Honolulu 67 years ago. I recall less of his description, but it was very interesting. I also learned during this conversation that he'd been interviewed by Chicago Tonight about his experiences around the time that the movie Pearl Harbor came out. Unfortunately, I hadn't been given the warning neccessary to watch or tape that interview -- which I regret.

Of course, as usual, most of what you hear about today is from the perspectives of those in the Military. I do not want to in any way diminish their sacrifices or experiences of that day, but being related to, and in fact descended from, civilians who were living in the Territory of Hawaii on December 7 1941, I cannot help but feel that their experiences are just as important to be remembered.

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