Pearl Harbor lost in shuffle

Glendale News Press
Dec 8 2004

Pearl Harbor lost in shuffle
Most schools skip marking Dec. 7, 1941, attack, instead honoring
Memorial, Veterans Day.

By Darleene Barrientos, News-Press and Leader

GLENDALE — To those of the World War II generation, Dec. 7 will always
be remembered as the date which will live in infamy.

But for many local educators and students, apparently it’s just
another day.

One sixth-grade Columbus Elementary school student quizzed by a
reporter Tuesday incorrectly guessed that Pearl Harbor was a plane.
His friend hit a little closer to the mark. He thought it had something
to do with a war.

But even as the rest of the country commemorated the 63rd anniversary
of the attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 — the event
that marked the United States’ official entry into World War II —
local schools went about business as usual.

“We talked about it in each of the classrooms, but not as a unified
school,” said Kirk Dunn, Glendale Adventist Academy’s principal. Most
teachers at each school had the choice whether to address the event,
but it was not known how many teachers mentioned it.

No events to commemorate the event were planned at Flintridge
Preparatory School in La Cañada Flintridge, spokeswoman Karen Kahler
said. History teachers might have addressed the topic in Tuesday’s
lessons, but Kahler could not confirm that.

Glendale Unified School District teachers were also given the
opportunity to talk about Pearl Harbor with students Tuesday, but
it wasn’t known how many did. Sixth-grade Columbus Elementary School
student Kostik Galstyan said he believed the schools should specially
mark such an event.

“I know how my life is because of the [Armenian] Genocide,” Kostik,
11, said.

Hoover High School student Ben Silva, 14, said he thought
administrators should have at least made a mention of the anniversary
in his school’s daily morning announcements.

“They should have — it’s an important day,” Ben said.

At Hoover High, school officials commemorate D-Day — the day that
Allied soldiers landed in Normandy in a drive to defeat Nazi soldiers
— Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Co-Principal Kevin Welsh said.

“I think, when we memorialize and remember [Sept. 11], there’s always
a little bit of recollection that America was caught off guard. It
was the most serious intelligence setback since Pearl Harbor,” he
said. And it seems that only in context of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
that students seem to recall the date that Franklin D. Roosevelt
declared would “live in infamy.”

At Glendale Community College, students and professors were also more
concerned with upcoming final exams than remembering Pearl Harbor,
but the attitude is also due to an emotionally charged past year,
said Roger Bowerman, history professor and division chairman of
social science.

“Particularly since the invasion of Iraq, we’re at greater unease at
remembering something like that. The campus has its flag at half-staff,
but I don’t believe people see it or know why,” Bowerman said.

Part of the problem in remembering these history-changing dates
and events is partly because they are merely just dates to this
generation. If students were more aware of the ‘why’ behind some of
these dates, they would probably remember them better, he said.

“If it were not brought up by the press or films or TV, people
would kind of forget, because people are [uninterested in history]
in the United States. Many of them don’t remember when the [American]
Civil War was or even what caused it. History in public schools is
very names and dates driven,” he said.


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