Pearl Harbor Day challenge: Gather the stories - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Pearl Harbor Day challenge: Gather the stories

The generation that remembers Dec. 7, 1941 is slipping away from us. Some of them were children when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 78 years ago. If they were five or older, they likely remember vividly where they were when they learned of the attack, and what happened next in their lives.

Today’s MRAK challenge: Call someone you know who is in their 80s or 90s, and ask them where they were when they heard the news of the attack. Write down the details of their account. Send the story to [email protected], and I’ll compile them for Saturday’s online edition of Must Read Alaska. Thank you!

First story is in!

Marlys was a 12-year-old child in Bend. Her father, Bob Prentice, was a minister at the Presbyterian church and he and his wife Doris were at the church for their pastoral duties on Dec. 7, 1941, a Sunday, while Marlys was sick at home. At about noon, Marlys turned on the radio, tuned to the only station they had — KBND — and heard news of the attack crackle through the tubes. “I was laying in my bed and I was horrified. I was scared. When I heard my parents’ car pulling into the driveway, I leaned over the banister looking straight down the steps and shouted: ‘The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor!'” That’s how my parents heard the news.

“I didn’t say Japs — we were trained not to say things like that. Then the downstairs radio went on and we never left the radio that day. The president’s voice — I won’t forget when he came on the radio and said ‘We are at war.'”

“It drained our little town of all the young dads and lads overnight to create a big Army and Air Force. One of the members of the church — my father’s best friend and hunting buddy — signed up right away, and was killed in action, and so was my piano teacher’s son. The church was packed on Dec. 14, as people came to hear what my dad, the preacher, had to say.”

Send your story here.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comment

  • I’ve always enjoyed your writing and information. This is an excellent idea and should provide some very interesting and reads.

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