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On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, effectively bringing the United States into the Second World War. The following are excerpts from stories submitted to the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services' War Era Story Project. Read full stories on the Department of Aging's website.
"(At age 10) I, like many of my friends, sold The Youngstown Vindicator daily and Sunday newspapers. At the time, I was too young to have a regular paper route, so we sold our papers on the streets and in business places throughout Salem. Early in the morning, while my family and I were still asleep, there came a BANG, BANG, "HEY JOE WAKE UP." ... There was my boss, Cecil, from the Vindicator shouting for me to take these papers; he was dropping them on the porch. "Take them up and down the neighborhood, yelling 'EXTRA! EXTRA! JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR.'" Before I could speak, he was running to his car and driving off. I thought to myself, "I'll never be able to sell that many papers (25) in one day." I did what Cecil told me to, I walked about three blocks and sold all the papers in no time at all." - Joseph Alessi, Jr., age 81, Youngstown
"We were all listening to the radio on Dec. 7, 1941, when President Roosevelt announced the U.S. had declared war on Japan after they bombed Pearl Harbor. My older brother, Harold, would turn 18 the next day. We knew that our lives were going to change dramatically. Harold was drafted a few months later. I was still in high school. Then, after I graduated in 1942, I was inducted into the Army." - Robert A. Bohyer, Lima
"I was fourteen years old in 1941 and living in a small town in North Carolina with my parents. It was Sunday, we had been to church and I was just finished doing the dishes. I remember walking into the living room and seeing my dad leaning toward the radio. My mom was sitting on the arm of the chair, holding his hand, and he had tears running down his cheeks. That was such a surprise that I started to go to him, but my mother motioned for me to sit down and listen. It was President Roosevelt, on the radio, telling the nation that Japan had just attacked Pearl Harbor, leaving mass destruction and many casualties. It was December 7, 1941, and we were going to war." - Catherine Gary, age 85, Sharonville
"My Dad, who worked as a post office employee, and several of his friends joined the Marines ... Dad's letters were often deleted on specific words, i.e., Dad wrote asking about Pearl Gettles, who lived across the street from Grandma, and he said it was an "abhorring" day today. Mom worked crossword puzzles and reasoned that Dad was telling her that he was in Pearl Harbor. This was after the destruction. He sent home pictures to us from Guam and aboardship. One picture showed an airplane crashing into Pacific Ocean." - James Gillis, age 77, Huber Heights
"The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 propelled the United States into World War II exactly 67 days after my 10th birthday. The war was my constant companion for the next four years, until I was nearly 14 years of age. The war was at home, in the schools, in the movies, on the radio, in churches and temples, in the marketplace, in conversation and in dreams. It was inescapable and flavored everything, especially the attitudes of a child transitioning into teenage during those impressionable years." - David J. Goodman, age 80, Moreland Hills
"On December 7, 1941, I was a senior in high school. The next day, all we talked about was 'the war' and what boys were enlisting. Gradually things changed. We graduated and went to work or college, but the boys were missing. My boyfriend, who had graduated in 1941 and was working in the shoe store, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps ... When my boyfriend came home on leave, we were married. Then for a time, I was in North Carolina with him ... When my husband was sent to the Philippines I went home to my parents in Chillicothe, Ohio, where I lived all my life. The rest of the war went slowly. We girls (women now) went to movies, organized sewing clubs, wrote lots of letters and worried about the men. Our oldest son was born during this time. It took 2 months for his father to get the news." - Anna C. Stout, age 87, Chillicothe
"I graduated from Columbus North High School in June, 1941. In September, I began classes at Ohio State. Many of my high school class mates also attended OSU, and we lived at home. On Sunday, Dec. 7, my sister and I returned home from a movie to find our parents listening to the radio about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My freshman year was a good experience with lots of social activities, new friends, etc. But the second year saw the campus almost wiped clean of boys. Our classes were much smaller and mostly all girls ... By junior year, the Army sent soldiers (ASTP) to OSU to take classes. They marched across the oval in formation, and their classes were separate from ours. The professors informed us that the soldiers were better students than 'us girls.' We were glad to have them around, and we held U.S.O. dances for them." - Marjorie Kinnear Sydor, age 89, Dayton
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