My final project is going to feature interviews with both American and Japanese servicemen (and women, if possible), relating their experiences at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941. I have a long(ish) digital rendering of the flight path followed by the first wave of Japanese dive bombers that I created using digital mapping tools. It’s a smooth, seemingly peaceful flight through the central valley of Oahu, with a wide sweeping turn into the morning sun around Honolulu, a quick twist and dive that ends with a close-up of the USS Arizona memorial followed by a violent set of maneuvers to egress, then a leisurely flight back up the valley. Over top of this animation, I intend to display pictures and videos as available. The soundtrack will include first-person interviews as well as third-person readings of written interviews.
The historical points covered will include the state of affairs in the Pacific in the late 1930s, including the heightening tensions between Japan and the U.S. that presaged to the Japanese attack, short anecdotes about the “great men” of the Pacific theater, and a discussion of the decision-making process that led to the Japanese decision to attack.
I will search the National Archives and LOC for interviews with American and Japanese servicemen and women relating to the months before the start of hostilities and interviews with American airmen and sailors about how their day began on Dec 7, 1941. The crown jewels of the primary sources would be interviews with Japanese airmen about their impressions of Pearl Harbor in the moments before the attack and their thoughts and feelings following the attack. The point of all of this will be to frame the attack from the point of view of the participants, stripping away “great moment in history” veneer in favor of the visceral, in-the-moment gut reaction of those who were there at the time.