Think how different life was 70 years ago today before the news broke about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. People had probably gone to church since it was Sunday and were preparing to enjoy their day of rest. In a few short hours, everything changed!
My grandmothers were both young wives with young children. Grandma Marian lived in North Dakota with her husband and two children and her father in law. I’m sure winter was making its mark. Her parents were still living up at the loggie at Hatter Creek. Granddad Gage was nearing 50 years old and Grandma Gage was around 45. They still had 7 children at home. Their oldest two were already married and their second son, Bernard, was already in the military, in training. Grandma Cappy was in Lewiston, ID. She had recently had my mother in October of that year – so she, too had small children to care for. Her parent’s and younger brother lived next door and her husband was working at hauling lumber down from his best friend's lumber mill, running a ranch and working at the Potlatch mill. After that day, their lives were never the same.
Neither one of my grandfather’s served in World War II. Grandpa Frank had flat feet and was not a candidate for military service. Grandpa Richard was probably refused entry into the military. As a rancher and farmer, he was needed at home far more. All of Richard’s brothers were probably too old but I know that he had a least one nephew who served as well as his brother-in-law. Grandpa Frank didn’t have any brothers, only sisters – but Grandma Marian had two brothers and two brother-in-laws who fought in World War II. By the end of the war, both of Grandma Cappy’s brothers were in the war both fighting in the thick of the battle. But on that day 70 years ago all of this was yet to come. On that day, people were in shock and fear. I’m sure they wondered what was to come and most of them gathered around the radio the next day to learn what the President had to say.
Before 10 years ago, I could only imagine what it would have felt like – to be an American on the December 7, 1941. After September 11, 2011 – I understood. It was weeks before Americans of 70 years ago saw the horrors of the Pearl Harbor attack on movie newsreels –we saw everything happening in front of our eyes on the television. I remember watching in disbelief as the World Trade towers collapsed thinking of all the people who had died and their families. Now I look at those old newsreels and know that many were affected – in big cities and small communities. My grandmother and her two brothers both lost a classmate in Pearl Harbor that day. He was from the tiny town of Princeton, ID. Around 2400 people died that day and he was one of them. Today, 70 years later, there are about 2,500 to 3,000 survivors still alive. Their numbers are dwindling but let’s hope our country will keep their memory alive and honor their sacrifices in the years to come.