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Pearl Harbor
Digital History ID 4142

Author:   Morris Broussard

Annotation: Childrens' lives were transformed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Morris Broussard was 8 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the naval air station, which sat about five minutes from his Hawaiian home on Oahu.

Document: His father saw the planes first. Assuming they were from the U. S., he said to Broussard and his younger twin brothers,"Let's go watch the maneuvers."

As they jumped in the car, a 1934 Dodge, Broussard's mother stayed in the house, which was starting to shake from the vibrations. She needed to take dishes off the shelves. When Morris and his family got to the lagoon across from the air station that housed 15 planes, they watched the aircraft circle in, flying no higher than a telephone pole. They listened to the sirens. They waved to the pilots. They saw the goggles on their faces.

But with all the smoke and fire, that's all they could see. As soon as they got there, a police officer said to Broussard's father,"Bruce, take your kids home. The Japanese are bombing Pearl Harbor."

They did as they were told, but Broussard remembers his father's skepticism and what he muttered: "He said, "Those darn police. Drunk. On Sunday morning, too." "

They returned home to watch soldiers installing a 50-caliber machine gun and a bank of sand bags in their front yard and to see tanks driving up and down their dirt road. Soon after, Broussard's mother, a nurse, left for the hospital where she stayed for three days straight. When she came home for a few hours' rest, she was accompanied by an MP.

Broussard's school was targeted, too, even though the bomb that hit the principal's office was a dud. There was martial law and no school for one year. Everyone expected the Japanese to land and take over.

When the kids did return to school, they wore gas masks strapped around their shoulders.

Source: Jane Fishman, "I Could See Their Goggles," Savannah Morning News, June 12, 2001.

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