30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Day of Infamy

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, it changed millions of lives across our country and around the world.  Two of those lives were my parents.  Both of whom were on Oahu on the morning of the bombing, yet they had two different viewpoints of the infamous event.

1992 Starline Americana #112

My mom's family owned property in Honolulu on Waiola Street where my aunty and cousin still live.  Back in 1941, my mother was only 6 years old and that morning she was removing the roots off of moyashi bean sprouts for her mom on the back stairs of their home.  At around 8am she could hear explosions and began seeing puffs of black smoke off in the distance at Pearl Harbor (approximately 10 to 11 miles away).

Two blocks away, my mom's elementary school was hit by a bomb and caught on fire.  In the other direction one or two stores near McCully and King were also destroyed.

Later in the morning, my mom's family was told they might need to evacuate, so they packed clothes and family valuables.  Luckily they never actually had to leave their home.

At some point, my mom remembered soldiers visiting their house.  They broke the family portrait of Emperor Hirohito and Japanese records.  They were also instructed to cover the windows with tar paper to blockout any light.  My grandfather was the block warden and would go around the neighborhood to make sure no light was visible at night.  She also recalled my grandfather and some neighbors building a bomb shelter in their backyard.

About 40 miles northeast of my mother's house, my father's family lived on a sugarcane plantation in Waianae.  At the time of the attack, my dad was 9 years old.  He remembers being outside with some of the other plantation kids playing that morning.  They noticed a bunch of planes flying close to the shore, but nobody thought it was too big of a deal.

Everyone living on the plantation was used to seeing and hearing the rumbling of U.S. Navy or Air Force planes.  The only difference this time was the markings on the wings of the planes.

A little while later they could hear the explosions at Pearl Harbor and Schofield Barracks.  That's when they knew something wasn't right.  Like my mother's family... they were forced to black out their windowsSoldiers visited them as well... and my dad remembers confiscating their short wave radio.

In a sense, my parents were lucky that they were in Hawaii during World War II.  We've all heard the stories of the Japanese-Americans living on the mainland during the war.  There were a few internment camps and detention centers on the islands, but due to the sheer number of Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii at the time, the majority were not taken from their homes.  That being said, 2,270 people of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii were required to go to the local camps or were transferred to the camps on the mainland.

December 7th will always be a date which will live in infamy.  My thoughts go out to all of the families who lost loved ones that day.

I wrote this post to document my parent's personal experiences.  I interviewed my mother on this subject about two years ago and talked to my dad yesterday afternoon.  I know that this isn't my typical blog post, but I figured there might be a few people interested in reading about the attack on Pearl Harbor from a different perspective.

The matted print at the beginning of this post features the USS Arizona.  I purchased it about ten years ago when my family took the Pearl Harbor tour.  While we were there, we had the opportunity to meet three Pearl Harbor survivorsHerb Weatherwax, Alfred Rodrigues, and Sterling Cale.

Mr. Weatherwax sadly passed away on December 12, 2016.  The Honolulu native was 99 years oldEarlier this year on February 24th, Mr. Rodrigues passed away.  He was born on Kauai on February 7th, 1920.  At the age of 98, Sterling Cale is believed to be the last military Pearl Harbor survivor still living in Hawaii.

I was honored to be able to meet and shake the hands of these real American heroes.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. Well done Mark. Great post. My step-father survived that day. He too is no longer with us, died a long time ago (1983), but I remember those stories as a kid.

  2. Thank you for sharing. Your family's perspective is something that is not presented often.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. My grandfather was stationed in Japan during World War II. I don't remember much about him, because he passed away when I was really young. I do remember my father and I getting his Army trunk when he passed. It was full of all kinds of things like sealed packs of Japanese cigarettes, his bayonette, dress shoes, various odds and ends. There was also this Japanese banner/scroll thing in there that I have held on to ever since. Thank you for sharing your story. Here is a picture of the banner.


  4. thanks for sharing something that we never heard in school or on any news shows.

  5. Had many friends growing up whose parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles were held in Manzanar and Arizona, but never thought about those in Hawaii....thanks for the education!

  6. Oh wow! So glad you were able to capture that history! Amazing story and appreciate you sharing. Some real life perspectives we don’t often get to hear about.

  7. Not much to add, but I too want to thank you for this. Gripping stuff.

  8. Awesome post Fuji, thanks for sharing the perspective of your parents. Great photograph at the end, too!

  9. Wonderful that you have the stories. I don't know my grandparents'. Only gleanings I have are the contents of my grandmother's wallet and the fact that every time I shone a flashlight into the air as a kid my mom would tell me that her mom always told her, "if you do that a plane will drop a bomb on you."

  10. Wow, incredible to have such a strong connection to the day. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. I think someone just secured their "Best Post of the Year" award!

  12. Wow, your parents stories of that day were certainly amazing.

    My wife's grandparents had a differing perspective on the War. They are from Okinawa and her grandma was there during the battle (grandfather was in the army fighting in Burma by that point). I spent a day with her and visited the memorial once about 15 years ago, it was truly shocking to hear her experience, her brother and almost all of her classmates in school (she was in her early teens at the time) were killed during the battle, her home was obliterated (in fact her entire home town was) and she barely survived by hiding in a cave.

    Horrible times those were.

  13. I wasn’t expecting this read from the title. Like all the others I really enjoyed reading and learning more about the experiences in Hawaii that day. It’s a smart move to get those stories from your parents so you have that to stay with you into the future.

  14. johnnys trading spot - cherish those stories. i only wish i asked my mom more about her childhood

    billy kingsley - thanks billy. wasn't sure if people would be interested, but with my poor memory... i knew i wanted it to be documented

    lee hero - that's a lot of cool pieces of your grandfather's past. that banner is awesome.

    runforekelloggs - i only wish i had asked them 40 years ago when their memories were fresher. no complaints though... i'm glad i was able to hear their stories

    mr haverkamp - my parents were very lucky. my best friend's grandparents were interned and the story was very, very sad. feel really bad that so many people lost their businesses and properties

    sumomenkoman - thanks ryan. i'm really glad i had the opportunity to sit down and have this talk with my mom. and my phone conversation with my dad on friday inspired him to start writing down some of his childhood memories. i can't wait to one day read them

    brett alan - thank you brett for taking the time to read this post.

    the snorting bull - thank you for the kind words. glad you enjoyed it

    shoeboxlegends - lol. did you like santa claus in the back? that's my niece... and my other niece.

    nick vossbrink - yeah, the whole fear of being bombed again was legit. i'm sure that was drilled into their brains back then

    the lost collector - i think that's why i've always had a fascination with world war ii.

    jon - lol. i appreciate the nomination :)

    sean - oh man. that's insane. i don't know much about what the citizens of japan went through other than your comment and what i saw in the animation... grave of the fireflies. but i can imagine it was a hell hole. i mean the same thing applies to anyone who has to live in a war zone. i'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother and her time in the cave. that's super sad

    matt - thank you matt!

    steve at 1975baseballcards.com - yeah, i only wish i asked my mom more about her childhood before she passed away. i won't make the same mistake with my father

    arpsmith - thank you for taking the time to read this post :)

  15. A week late, but great post Fuji. It's one of those that you can repost once a year and it won't get old.