A Child’s Remembrances of Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy and the Years of War

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As the attack on Pearl Harbor nears its 81st anniversary, Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson’s story is as poignant as ever

On Dec. 7, 1941, in the early morning hours on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu, Dorinda Makanaonalani was eating breakfast with her family when they heard the sounds of low-flying planes; then, almost immediately, loud explosions, followed by more planes passing directly over their house.

Her father remarked that it was “unusual” for the military to do maneuvers on a Sunday, and he bolted into the front yard, with his young daughter running close behind.

“We looked up into the orange-red emblem of the Rising Sun and we could see the pilots’ faces and even the goggles that covered their eyes” she recalled. “The sounds of the bullets were muffled by the roar of the engines; we could not hear them, but the incendiary bullets found their targets, and parts of our house caught on fire. The front door of our neighbor’s house was so bullet-ridden from the strafing, it fell from the hinges.”

She was just 6 years old when her eyes saw things she couldn’t describe or begin to understand. Images were etched into her heart and mind which she kept silent about for almost 50 years, until she finally told her story in a book titled “Pearl Harbor Child: A Child’s View of Pearl Harbor—From Attack to Peace,” first printed in 1993 under her married name of Nicholson. She experienced the blackouts, rationing, air raid drills, gas masks, censorship, martial law, wartime currency, and finally peace.

“It has been a journey,” she told The Epoch Times.

The Makanaonalanis lived on Jean Street in a small civilian community on the Pearl City Peninsula, across the channel from Ford Island, where the battleship USS Utah was docked just a few hundred yards from their home. As the attack continued, she could see that it was on its side in the murky water. There was smoke everywhere, and the smell of fire and burning oil filled the air.

By Paula L. Ratliff

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