When the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on American bases in Hawaii, the people of the United States knew instantly that the nation was at war. So devastating was the news to a country still largely in the throes of a depression that survivors can still recall some six decades later where they were, who gave them the news, the clothes they were wearing, and the confusion and eventual hardships that such a development brought. This collection of memories, told in participants' own words, gathers accounts from both military and civilians, children and adults, people of many ethnic backgrounds, from all over of the United States. Together, these ordinary Americans paint a portrait of a nation stunned, but determined to rise again. While few if any were left unmoved by the prospect of war, some grief was immediate: The hangar was bombed causing it to collapse, killing my brother. For others, it raised deep questions about a once secure sense of identity: I did wonder why we (Japanese Americans) were singled out. What about the German Americans? With each passing year, more members of this generation pass from our midst, taking a piece of history with them. Determined to preserve these accounts, Richardson includes 160 personal narratives that describe a day in the life of America; that day was December 7, 1941.
K. D. Richardson is a freelance researcher and writer. He is a sports photographer and columnist for The Venice Cornerstone.