The horror was beyond
my comprehension . . .
Esther Early


I recently heard that a giant aster oid is probably going to pass by the Earth in a few years, missing it by just a few hundred thousand miles. Then in twenty or thirty years it will make another pass, in which it will collide with the Earth, causing untold damage, possibly even exterminating most life on this planet.

The announcement that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that we would be involved in a world war had much the same efect on me as the possible collision with the asteroid. The horror was beyond my comprehension, and my mind and emotions froze. As a young high school girl in northern Nevada, I knew where Hawaii lay geographically, and I had heard of the war going on in Europe, but these things were almost mythical. They had no reality to me.

I donít remember much about the actual day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. It is one of those things I have blanked out of my memory that were too painful to bring to mind easily.

My world consisted of small towns, deserts, and the people I knew. How could I relate to apocalyptic horrors that suddenly materialized in the reality of our very lives?
I do remember clearly sitting in a crowded classroom, squeezed into the same desk with my friend, Louis Snyder, while the principal, Mr. Oakey, spoke to us about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Then he played the speech by our President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in which the President read the Declaration of War on Japan over the radio. We all sat frozen, uncomprehending, but filled with a sense of impending doom. I don't remember what the principal said after the radio broadcast. We all went on with our regular classes for the day.

The country was swept up in such rapid mobilization for war with the Axis powers that it shortly was a way of life to put the good of our country first. We knew beyond a doubt that this was a war for survival, and hardly anything we heard or did was not for the war effort. We never doubted that we, in some way, were contributing to the winning of the war. Our hearts bled when we heard of defeats and the deaths of our servicemen and women, and hard won victories were personal victories for us. When the wars were over, we had only begun to deal with the physical and psychological damage in the world, for us and our enemies.

It still goes on.

Esther Early is a native Nevadan, born in Contact, which is now just another old ghost mining town. She was going to school in Wells, Nevada, when the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and graduated with a degree in English and a minor in Spanish. She was certified to teach in secondary schools and later in Special Education. She taught in Washoe County and for five years was the hospital teacher at Washoe Medical Center. She has two daughters and one son. One daughter is a graphics design artist; one is a family marriage counselor and therapist; and her son is an electrical engineer. She and her husband had a family business, Central Credit, Inc., which they conducted for over twenty years. Her husband died in 1994. Esther is now Vice President of ElderCollege and Licensed Teacher in the Unity Church, and she does volunteer work with a number of other organizations. She is dedicated to learning and education and hopes to keep teaching and studying as long as she lives.

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