December 8, 1941
As promised, I’m back with more information about what happened yesterday. First, just to clarify since I’m certain you were just as curious as I was, it turns out Pearl Harbor is more than just a vacation spot. I knew it had to be, it just would have helped if one of my parents had stopped for a minute to answer my questions. Of course, they tend to believe that girls should be sedate and uninterested in such masculine topics as the news and war. Showing an interest in such manly topics turns prospective suitors off, to hear mother tell of it.
Yet given that we were attacked yesterday, attacked as in on our own soil, a first for this country, wouldn’t anyone, girl or boy, want to know what was happening? I’m not sure mother knew either but dad probably explained it to her since she seemed to understand all about it during the radio address. Or at least she wasn’t asking questions. And mother has no problem asking questions when she wants to know something. Of course, at the same time she cautions me that men don’t want a wife that is too smart so I should only ask questions that are simple and that men are bound to know the answers to so you make them feel smart. I wonder if I can stop acting stupid once I’m married?
Anyway, we learned all about Pearl Harbor today in school. It is, or was until yesterday anyway, the hub of our Naval Power. It’s ironic, really. It was originally picked because of fear that Japan was getting too aggressive and it was felt that we needed the majority of our fleet in the Pacific just in case. Then it’s the Japanese themselves who actually sneak over and attack us. I don’t understand why we weren’t keeping better tabs on them if we were so worried about them that we had most of our ships stuck out in Hawaii.
And, get this, Dear Diary, we saw them coming can you believe it? We have this brand new radar that uses some kind of new technology out there. The guy watching it actually saw all those Japanese attack planes swarming towards the Harbor but guess what? He actually thought they were us! I guess we had a bunch of planes supposed to be coming back from the U.S. mainland so he just figured it was them. I guess radar blips all look the same. But that wasn’t all.
Some of ships were on maneuvers that morning and one actually spotted a Japanese sub in our waters! A real, live enemy sub caught while trying to sneak its way into the harbor. Well, it wasn’t actually an enemy at the time, but it was still an enemy of England and France who are our friends so that would still kind of make Japan an enemy even if they hadn’t done anything yet, right?
So I guess we fired at the sub for a while then just forgot about it. I really don’t know how such a thing could happen. Maybe I’m not supposed to be too smart if I want to marry well, but really, how smart do you really have to be to figure that one out? The Japanese, well we’ll just call them our enemy for simplicity sake since they are England and France’s enemy and they’re both our friends, anyway, the Japanese try to sneak a sub into our harbor and it’s the middle of a war. We shoot at it but don’t figure maybe more of them are in the area? If I were heading things up over there I would have had all our boats out there, guns loaded looking for those sneaky Japanese. Maybe then at least one of the captains would have spotted the planes, noticed they weren’t actually ours and we could have saved some of our ships, not to mention all the men we lost!
Oh, Dear Diary, it’s just so sad.
They bombed us for not even two hours, and still managed to sink a bunch of our ships and airplanes When it was over they had killed more than 3,700 of our men. Can you just imagine, Dear Diary? In less than two hours thousands of young men had lost their lives, lots of them leaving sweat hearts and wives behind. I don’t know what I’d do if that was me. If I managed to fall madly in love with someone only to lose him just because our military messed up not once but twice, totally missing the fact that a bunch of incoming aircraft were not, in fact, our planes and could only be coming to attack us, and noticing an enemy sub sneaking around but then just ignoring it. I can’t imagine how I’d handle that, or if I could handle that.
I know I would be all mixed up with feelings like I bet those poor girls are. All sad, and tragically grief stricken and just horn mad. And those Japanese lost hardly anyone. It’s just not fair. I can’t imagine they’ll even be able to bring all those boys up from the bottom either. Especially not with everyone who’s left now needed to go off and fight Japan and the rest. I just feel like screaming for those poor, dead, boys and their poor heartbroken sweethearts. How can any girl feel safe falling in love again? I asked Jeremy that and he seemed annoyed with me, said I was missing the big picture, whatever that means. I don’t know what was up with him today. He was walking around like he was angry with the world, even with me. And he never gets angry with me.
That’s all I have the energy to say tonight, Dear Diary. All of this has just gotten me so upset I just feel exhausted. I’m even planning on going to bed two hours early and I never go to bed early. I’ll do my best to get back to you tomorrow, though I’m not promising to write every night.
Truthfully, just between you and I, I think my parent’s had a good idea with regards to starting a diary. Telling you about my feelings seems to help me get them under control and makes my thoughts a little clearer. But it also seems to wear me down and it seems like there’s nothing left afterwards. I don’t know what that means but the emptiness inside scares me when the really strong feelings have been quieted. I’m used to feeling things strongly, so the emotions related to all this didn’t seem daunting.
I’m not sure that’s what I mean to say. It’s not that the feelings weren’t intense but it’s more the absence of all those emotions or maybe even just calming them down that seems scary to me for some reason. Maybe I’ll figure that part out in the future. But for now, I think I might try to hold onto some of those emotions so as not to have to face every night that quiet which unnerves me so. Goodnight, Dear Diary. I’ll be back soon.
Read Part I of "Petals Amidst the Thorns, A Day That Will Live in Infamy", here.
Actual Footage of the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Natalie Frank on May 14, 2017:
Thanks Dora. It's an interesting way to learn information about the war and times I didn't previously know. Glad you're enjoying it!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 14, 2017:
An interesting way to pass on this historical information, including possible feelings of those who actually lived it. Good job!
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on May 13, 2017:
Thank you. My father served in WWII in Africa mostly I think.Like your stepfather he would never talk of it. My parents ran a restaurant after they got married and I guess having no information about my dad in the army I got things mixed up. I told him one day they had asked if any of us had relatives who had served in the war. He asked what I said. I said I told them he'd been a cook in the army. That was the first time he ever told me anything. There are still large holes in what I know and what I don't know. I think having to do something that is so counter to everything you were raised to believe is right and wrong, i.e. trying to kill as many "enemy" soldiers as possible is something most people just want to forget or at least not talk about afterwards. How can you possibly make sense of it? Plus I imagine most feel like others wouldn't really understand which is true. Unless you were in such a situation you can listen but there's no way you can fully understand.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 12, 2017:
My stepfather was there that day. As usual with most soldiers who saw action, he wouldn't talk about it. This is quite poignant, my friend.