What have you done to honor veterans who fought in wars? What more could you do?
As the article points out, few people realize that 68 civilians were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Why do you think that fact has been overlooked for so many years? In what way, if any, does knowing about these civilian deaths impact your understanding of the attack on Pearl Harbor?
In the article, the author relates Charlotte Coe's account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which she witnessed as an 8-year-old child. How do you think Coe's memories are influenced by the fact that she was so young when the attack occurred? In what way do you think "the decades disappeared in an instant" as Coe told her story?
In the article, the author states that Charlotte Coe recounted her experiences during the attack on Pearl Harbor as if they were a film that had been continuously running in her head ever since. Many children around the world today live in war zones. Some endure violence for years. What do you think can be done to help these children survive and recover from their traumatic experiences?
- Invite students to share what they know about the events of December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
- Point out that people can learn about historical events like this in many ways. They can read books, study artifacts or go to museums. They can also talk to someone knowledgeable about the subject. That person may be an expert on the topic or someone who was there when the event occurred-like Charlotte Coe, who they read about in the article.
- Point out that the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred 78 years ago. Anyone alive now who lived through the attack would have been a teenager or even younger when it occurred. So, finding a living witness might be difficult. However, many groups have interviewed Pearl Harbor survivors over the years and recorded their oral histories so their stories will not be forgotten.
- Instruct students to either conduct research to find an oral history about Pearl Harbor, such as those in the Pearl Harbor National Memorial's collection, or to interview someone they know who was alive at the time and experienced the event. If they are using an online interview, encourage them to create an audio version of the script. If they are interviewing a living witness, have them record the conversation to create a detailed oral history of the Pearl Harbor attack from that person's perspective.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
On December 7, 1941, an NBC radio affiliate in Honolulu made an urgent phone call to New York. In it, he begins to describe what the world would later know as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Watch this video, courtesy of Smithsonian magazine, to hear that urgent report.
Take a step back with Curator Laurence Burke and explore the long and complicated history that led up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in this National Air and Space Museum article.
The conventional story is that America was caught sleeping on the morning of December 7, 1941, and Pearl Harbor was hit without warning. But newly classified documents from the U.S. Naval Intelligence and the FBI reveal a very different tale, one of Japanese and German spies studying Pearl Harbor long before the assault. Watch this Smithsonian Channel video to learn about the undercover network.
Years after the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, the devastation is still visible from the air. Watch this Smithsonian Channel video to see for yourself.
Ten weeks after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, under which nearly 75,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry were taken into custody. Another 45,000 Japanese nationals living in the United States (but long denied citizenship because of their race) were also incarcerated. Visit this National Museum of American History site to learn about their experiences and how some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done—and to make it right.
After the bombing of the military base on Pearl Harbor, Americans rallied around the war effort with the patriotic cry, “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Thousands of buttons or lapel pins were distributed to remind Americans of the tragic event and to solidify the war efforts. Use this investigation sheet from the Smithsonian’s History Explorer to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.
Seventy years after the day that lives on in infamy, the soldiers stationed at Pearl Harbor recalled their experiences for Smithsonian magazine. Read the article to hear their stories.