Before the War
War Begins
  Going to Work
  War Comes Home
  Daily Life
  The War Ends


War Begins

Like Betty's family, Americans counted on the radio for up-to-the-minute news and gathered around the radio every day for the latest information. Photo Credit: National Archives.

On December 7, 1941, I was celebrating my 15th birthday. It was Sunday, and I had my young girlfriends over for ice cream and cake. At four o'clock in the afternoon the radio announced the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. One of my friends began crying, and rushed home — her brother was already in the Navy, and she thought he was killed. (Luckily he was okay.) My grandparents, aunt, and my mother all became very serious. Everyone's first question was: Where is Pearl Harbor? Finally, the radio told us that Pearl Harbor was in Hawaii.

I don't think any of us ate my birthday cake. We were all too upset.

That night I was in my bed, and at 11:00 p.m., a plane flew over. I jumped out of bed and asked my mother if we were going to be bombed. She said, "No, it's just the mail plane from Philadelphia going to Newark Airport. It flies over at 11:00 every night." Comforted, I went to sleep.

Think About It
What do you think most Americans were thinking after Pearl Harbor was bombed? Do you think they expected another world war at that point?

Find Out More
Learn more about Pearl Harbor through an overview, a timeline, and eyewitness accounts.