"Where were you on December 7?"

"The Punchbowl Cemetery" (National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific) in Hawaii

Everyone my age knows where they were when the Twin Towers were attacked. Pretty much everyone my parents' age can remember what they were doing when President Reagan was shot. And if you ask anyone over the age of 75, they will no doubt be able to tell you where they were when they heard Pearl Harbor was bombed. This is a favorite question of mine to ask. The answers are as diverse as they are interesting. The last couple of days I have made a few phone calls to veterans around the country to ask them where they were on December 7, 1941.

One Marine told me that at the time his family was living in the Panama Canal zone where his father worked as a civilian contractor on the American base there. Coming out of church Sunday morning, they were disturbed to hear every siren, bell, horn, and whistle in the Canal zone going off. As the Military personnel dashed to their respective places, he spotted a Marine in brilliant dress blues run by. Only age 15 at the time, he determined he would enlist in the Marine Corps and wear that uniform. He never got the uniform, but he did join the Marines and go on to fight at Iwo Jima. 

One Korean War vet told me he was 11 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Like many others, he’d never heard of the place before, so for the rest of the war, he closely followed the fighting in the Pacific and European theatres on a large map of the world.

Another friend didn’t find out until the Monday afterward. He was working in his family’s fields when a neighbor came over to tell them the news. They didn’t have a radio in the house, so they piled into their little car to hear the latest bulletins on the car radio. 

There are countless other stories like these. Of course, the stories from the Pearl Harbor survivors themselves are some of the most interesting. Hearing why they had joined up in the first place to serve in peace time, what they were doing the days prior to the infamous bombing, and what happened to them next. 

Tomorrow, we remember the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. So tonight, the girls and I are driving up to Dallas so we can spend the day hearing many more accounts like these at a Pearl Harbor memorial event. We look forward to sharing some of the stories with you afterward.