Friday marks 71 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor
Friday marks 71 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor—certainly not an exceptional anniversary—but for those whose futures were altered by Japan's attack on the U.S. naval base, details from Dec. 7, 1941, stick fresh no matter how many years have passed.
Ted Sherman, then 16, learned of the attack while seeing "Sergeant York," a film about a World War I hero, at a local Philadelphia movie theater. He remembers the screen going dark, the manager coming on stage to deliver the news, and boys crowding outside the theater to talk about quitting school to enlist in the military. The next day, Sherman watched his 19-year-old brother sign up at an Army recruiting office. Then, a week later, came the sobering images during a senior-class trip to Washington, D.C.: soldiers with machine guns and rifles guarding rooftops and entrances of the Capitol building.
"Most of us had never heard of Pearl Harbor, and as the implications of the attack became clear, we were fired with the growing anger that was just beginning to sweep across the country," Sherman writes in a first-person account for Yahoo News.
Eager to enlist, but still too young, Sherman had to wait what he calls "an anxious year" before joining the Navy. He writes:
"After boot camp in 1943, I was assigned as a crewman on a troop transport. While carrying Marines to the Pacific battles, we sailed through Pearl Harbor. It was two years after the attack, and much of the damage had been repaired.
"However, as we passed by the site, we could still see the grim image of the destroyed battleship USS Arizona just below the surface. There were bubbles of escaping oil still breaking the surface. It was as if the ghosts of the 1,177 sailors below were urging us to remember Pearl Harbor."
Sherman's anecdotes are several that Yahoo News collected this week from Americans who either distinctly recall Dec. 7, 1941, and the years that followed, or felt the attack deeply affect their families. Here are some of their stories.
Pearl Harbor remembered through a grandfather's diary
merica's fortunes—and much of those of Kathryn E. Darden's family—are traced in brisk, to-the-point diary entries her grandfather recorded during the war. Some excerpts:
Dec. 7, 1941: "Japs made surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, 2117 men killed, 960 missing, 876 wounded."
Dec. 8: "U.S. Declared War on Japan"
Dec. 11: "US declares war on Germany and Italy."
Nov. 18, 1942: "William Allen Darden Jr. now a 1st Lieut. US Engineers."
The latter entry is about Kathryn's father, who served in the Army as a lieutenant colonel with the Corps of Engineers. She learned about her father's military life—which began in 1931 after he joined college ROTC—through her late grandfather's diary.
"My father wanted to talk about his war days when I was a teen, but with the callowness of youth, I didn't want to listen then. By the time I was ready to hear his war stories, my father was gone," she writes. "While it was my father who served in World War II, it's from my grandfather's diary that I have learned the most about how Pearl Harbor impacted my family."
William Allen Darden Sr., Kathyrn's grandfather, added to the diary daily between 1938 and 1944, also detailing brief observations about the war effort back home. A Nov. 18, 1942, entry is especially brief: "Registered for gasoline rationing. 4 gallons per week."
"The rationing, coupled with her worrying about her new husband and her two brothers, is what my mother remembered most when I once asked her about Pearl Harbor," Kathryn writes about her parents. "She married Dad in 1939 and he was off to war just three years later. My grandfather, from whom I learned so much, died in 1955."
More stories at Yahoo! News