Although it has been 70 years since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, some area residents can still vividly recall the day they heard the news.
On Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked U.S. military bases in Hawaii. The next day, America declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy.
The attack on home soil forever changed the way Americans lived and looked at their place in the world.
For three residents of North Woods Commons, who ranged in age from 17 to 29 when the attack occurred, are able to recall with great detail the events that followed in their lives and the lives of those around them.
A simpler time
When Lois Willis first heard the news of the attacks, she was 17 and still a bit of a newlywed, having just married William in January 1941.
Now, at 88, Willis said she first thought it was not real.
“Two of my husband’s cousins came over to go rabbit hunting,” she recalled. “They told us about the attack. I didn’t know if they were pulling my leg.”
It didn’t come as much of a shock, she said.
“I was not really surprised, there were a lot of things going on,” she said.
Both of the cousins enlisted and her husband was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, where he would become a pilot.
“Life was simpler back then,” Willis said. “We didn’t know everything right away. We didn’t even have a telephone, we had to go next door.”
Willis said the country didn’t want to enter the war and stayed out of the conflict in Europe as long as possible.
“We were young,” she said. “We did what we had to do. It was all new to everybody.”
“It does something to you,” Willis said. “I’ll never forget it.”