Remembering Pearl Harbor

A date that lives in infamy. Today was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which left thousands of Americans dead and wounded, and set off a cascade of events that changed the course of history. It is a day of remembrance. Over the course of filming, I interviewed several people who were school children at the time and remember the day vividly. LaDonna Zall, one of the Wyoming residents interviewed in An American Contradiction, was in the town of Lyman, lying on her stomach reading The Denver Post when the announcement came over the radio. She didn’t know what the announcement meant, but thought it was important and ran outside to tell her parents. She recalls that it was a nice, unusually warm Wyoming day. My uncle Alfred Saito, who was living in San Francisco, returned home from church when my grandfather called home from his store in Oakland to inform my grandmother that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Tension was high, and there were fears that my grandfather may be assaulted on his way back home across the Bay Bridge because he was Japanese. I try to imagine what it was like on Sunday, December 7, 1941 and draw parallels to my experience in New York City on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I witnessed first-hand the war, destruction and confusion that set off a cascade of events, changing the course of history, while fueling prejudice and paranoia against Muslim Americans. It appears that the times have changed, but wars and fears haven’t. Pearl Harbor is a tragic part of American history, and I remember the date as an echo of my own experience.

2 Responses to Remembering Pearl Harbor

  1. mjbj says:

    Great point there about the parallel between the American Japanese and the American Muslim. What do you think is the equivalent of the concentration camp for the Muslim here? Guantanamo? Or something more sinister? Do you draw this parallel in the movie?

    • admin says:

      Interesting comment, and I really had to think about it. My answer has become too long, and I’m going to make a separate post about it. I’d like to expand upon this subject more in the feature film, but I only touch upon it in An American Contradiction.


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