I was sixteen years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the beginning of World War II. When we got the news on the radio, my friend Genevieve Avanzino and I were baking different sizes of star shaped cookies to stack on a wooden pole and base to make a centerpiece for the table, a Christmas tree for a Home Economics class luncheon at Reno High School that week.
The news left us all numb. My brother, John, was already in the Army as he was one of the first fellows in Reno to be drafted in April 1941. Since he had been in training we knew he would be some of the first in battles. When the men were drafted it was for one year, and we were looking forward to his discharge and returning home in the spring. We stayed glued to the radio for more news. At about 3 oclock Monday morning, John called from Fort Lewis, Washington. He said hed been standing in line for hours to tell us not to worry. He expected to be shipped out soon and didnt know where they would be sent. Troop movements were a deep secret from then on during the next four years. Military secrets were a part of our lives from then on, and it was difficult for us not to know where in the world our loved onesrelatives and friends, were. We were world minded from then on, because these fellows were all over as battles went on many continents and islands. When we wrote letters it was the fellows name, rank, and serial number and then an APO number and sent to one of our seaports on the East or West Coast. We were constantly worried.
Later our local paper listed the names of those men from Reno and Nevada who had been killed or wounded the day before. We looked at this list every morning, hoping none of those we knew was on the list. A lot of tears were shed when we saw a familiar name. A terrible way for a young person to grow up with so many lives at risk, thousands were killed every day and the lists became longer as the battles increased.
When we got to school on Monday morning, December 8, we were told there would be an assembly of all the students to listen to President Roosevelts message to all the nation when he declared war with the Japanese.