Chil­dren who lived through at­tack re­mem­ber Pearl Har­bor.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AU­DREY MCAVOY

HONOLULU | In some ways, it could be any class photo from the 1940s. The sepia-toned im­age shows 30 fifth­graders — 26 girls and four boys — at Thomas Jefferson El­e­men­tary School in Waikiki. Most are smil­ing, some look stern. A few have no shoes.

Yet this pic­ture is dif­fer­ent in one strik­ing way: Each child is hold­ing a bag con­tain­ing a gas mask, a sign of how war had sud­denly broke apart the rou­tines of their ado­les­cence on Dec. 7, 1941.

Three of the students, now in their mid-80s and all friends who have kept in touch over the years, re­flected re­cently on the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor 75 years ago and the mark it left on their child­hoods.

Joan Martin Rodby re­mem­bered the care­free walks to school, and her family build­ing an air raid shel­ter in their yard. Florence Seto, who is Ja­pane­seAmer­i­can, re­called sharing ice cream with Ms. Rodby, and be­ing wor­ried that her family would be taken away.

Emma Veary rem­i­nisced about her days singing, and her family cover­ing the win­dows at night so Ja­panese pi­lots couldn’t use the light of homes to guide them.

On the morn­ing of Dec. 7, a Sun­day, Ja­panese bombers flew across Oahu and be­gan their as­sault. Some chil­dren climbed onto the roofs of homes to see what was hap­pen­ing. The planes were so close to the ground in some cases that they could make out the Ris­ing Sun in­signia.

Soon, smoke rose over the wa­ter, about 10 miles from Ms. Veary’s home near Waikiki.

Ms. Veary, then 11, climbed atop a neigh­bor’s house. Back then, Waikiki didn’t have any high-rise ho­tels and con­do­mini­ums to block the view, so she could see all the way to the naval base. Her par­ents yelled at her to get down as soon as they heard about the at­tack.

Ms. Seto, who lived a few blocks away near homes be­long­ing to Navy fam­i­lies, re­mem­bered a neigh­bor rush­ing out of her home, scream­ing about how the Ja­panese, us­ing an ep­i­thet com­mon at the time, had at­tacked Pearl Har­bor.

The young Ms. Seto ran home, and, us­ing the same word, told her par­ents, both im­mi­grants from Ja­pan.

“That didn’t go over too well,” she said.

The at­tack killed more than 2,300 peo­ple, nearly half of them on the bat­tle­ship USS Ari­zona. More than 1,100 were in­jured. Af­ter the at­tack, Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt de­liv­ered a speech be­fore Con­gress, call­ing Dec. 7 a “date which will live in infamy.” The U.S. de­clared war against Ja­pan.

Ms. Veary, Ms. Seto and Ms. Rodby sud­denly found them­selves liv­ing in a war zone, as an ever-present worry about a Ja­panese in­va­sion per­me­ated life in their is­land home.

About a month or two af­ter the at­tack, Ms. Rodby and her class­mates were is­sued gas masks. Ms. Rodby, who was 10 at the time, re­mem­bers be­ing tested on how quickly she could don the mask. If an air raid siren went off, they had to be able to put the masks on in sec­onds.

The chil­dren put their gas masks around the backs of their chairs while in class. When play­ing out­side, they kept them in a set spot so they could grab them right away.

“It was like an ex­tra arm we had to have all the time,” Ms. Rodby said.


Joan Rodby points to her­self in a 1942 photo, in Makawao, Hawaii. Af­ter the Pearl Har­bor at­tack, schools re­quired students to carry gas masks with them at all times — even when pos­ing for their class photo.

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