Alan Koblin was ten years old when Pearl Harbor was first attacked on December 7th, 1941. He discusses where he was when he heard about the attack, his mother’s initial reaction, and his school’s response on the following day.

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Learning About Pearl Harbor

I was ten and a half years old on December 7th, 1941, and I was in my bedroom making little things with my erector set and listening to a football game on the radio. The Washington Redskins used to be the Boston Redskins in the early ’30s, and it was still broadcast on Boston radio. And sometime, I guess early in the game, they broke in with the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. And I walked out of my room into the kitchen where my mother was sitting with a couple neighborhood ladies just talking. And I said, and I knew they didn’t know where Pearl Harbor was, so I said, “Hey, Ma, the Japs just bombed Hawaii.”  The women all shook their heads going “that’s terrible, terrible” and went back to comparing recipes for chicken soup. And that was the first, you know, bomb thrown.

The next day was a Monday.  I was made very aware that this was big because I got to school, and classes were cancelled. And the whole school, grammar school and junior high school, was marched into the big auditorium we had there. And there was a little old Philco radio on a table, and we listened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech.  And then we knew it was real war.