Voices: Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?

Dec. 7, 2011, marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, the event that drew the United States into World War II. Residents of Lyngblomsten Retirement Community in Como Park shared their memories of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941. (Photos by Lori Hamilton)

Paul Samuelson, 90

I was 19. On Dec. 7, I was at home on the farm southwest of Starbuck, Minn. I remember that evening we sat and listened to President Roosevelt on the radio, who informed us that we had been attacked.

I didn’t think about the future then, but the following spring I joined up. I wanted to do my share, and my dad and my younger brother worked the farm.

I joined the Army and I ended up in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy. We were given credit for turning the war around.


Mary Eileen O’Brien, 90

I was 20 and I was a junior at St. Catherine’s [University]. That Sunday afternoon we were rehearsing a musical show. They said we could take a coffee break, so we went down to the tearoom.

The radio was on, and some of the students started crying because their fathers were in the service. One girl’s father was an officer at Pearl Harbor. Later that day, her mother called to tell her that her father had survived.

The man I was going out with (we married in 1944) was in the Army Reserves. He called me from Fort Snelling that afternoon and said, “We’re prepared and we’re not prepared.” It was a total surprise to everyone.

Janet Christianson, 92

On Dec. 7, 1941, I was 22 years old and I worked as a bookkeeper for my uncle’s plumbing business. It was a beautiful sunny day. I lived in the Como Park area, and we walked six blocks to the Warrendale Presbyterian Church at Como and Lexington. After church, I went with my boyfriend to his parents for a meal, and then we all went for a Sunday drive.

It came in on the radio. Pearl Harbor had been bombed. I hardly knew where Pearl Harbor was. What a shock. We were all stunned.

I didn’t marry that boyfriend. He went into the Navy [and I didn’t hear from him]. A couple of years later, he called from San Francisco to see if I wanted to get married, but I was going with somebody else  by then.

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