During my undergraduate studies, I was assigned the task of taking down an oral history. Thanks to that assignment I had the pleasure of meeting a festy little lady by the name of Hester, who worked in Mare Island’s flag loft during WWII.
She worked eight hours a day, six days a week, in a stuffy, second story room where rows upon rows of women worked, side-by-side, by machine and by hand, sewing. They sewed American flags, signal flags, table linens, and the occasional carpenter pant.
I sat in rapt attention as she told story after story … of the care that went into each piece … the grueling days … the weekend dances that got them through … and the reason it was all worthwhile.
For December 7, 1941–after the bombing of Pearl Harbor–it was reported the Japanese were headed for Mare Island. People were panic stricken–screaming and pulling at their hair. Luckily, an attack on Mare Island never happened … but the people never forgot. The war, you see, had come to their doorstep.
I think of Hester often, but especially on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. She was a tangible reminder that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was more than a date in history … it was real people, with real lives, and real stories. Military and civilian alike, they made the highest sacrifice … and for that, let us never forget.