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July 4 / August 14

July 4 / August 14

Reader TowsonLawyer writes:

Just in time for the Fourth of July – Lost Film from 1945

Here’s the story from Richard Sullivan:

67 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right? I was able to find an outfit ( to do a much superior scan of this footage to what I had previously posted, so I re-did this film and replaced the older version There are more still images from this amazing day, in color, at


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A wonderful view of a very different world than today, but just like today, we are facing a very troubling future with the likely re-election of a president whose objective is to radically transform this country into something very different than what has been. I hope that isn’t the case and I will do what I can to see that it doesn’t happen. The battle, as they say, has just begun.

LukeHandCool | July 4, 2012 at 10:07 am


Being a WWII history buff and someone who has spent a lot of time in Hawaii (probably walked along Kalakaua a thousand times) thanks TowsonLawyer and Professor!

This one goes immediately in my favorites forder. It’s just beautiful! What a find!

JackRussellTerrierist | July 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

Wow! Wonderful! What a perspective of comparison.

Thank you, Towsonlawyer!

Fifteen years later, Barack Obama would be born on these very same islands, and would arrive at the conclusion that these brave people had been mistaken in what they fought for. Instead of being shunned as misguided, a fool, or both, he was embraced by millions and elevated to the highest office in the land. We’ve arrived at a very sad state of affairs.

DavidJackSmith | July 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

This is an amazing, moving film.

And it’s proof of how seeing WW2 in color brings us in to a shared human experience with people just like us, while the monochrome footage distances us.

One caveat: do NOT let Obama see this. He’ll think they are all celebrating the greatest event ever in Hawaii: HIS BIRTH.

LukeHandCool | July 4, 2012 at 10:37 am


I found a fascinating book published in 2004 by the Punahou School Class of 1952. About 100 classmates contrubuted their remembrances of that day as mostly seven- and eight-year-old kids. (If the school name sounds familiar, President Obama attended Punahou.)

Here’s a sample entry. It’s by Robert Shane who later went on to fame as a founding member of The Kingston Trio (“Tom Dooley.”)

“My brother and I were awakened by the sound of airplanes on December 7, 1941. We were living in an apartment on the water at the end of Beachwalk Avenue. We went out to the beach to see what was going on just in time to see a Japanese plane flying about fifty feet over the water directly in front of us; it was heading from Diamond Head towards Ft. De Russey.

Shortly thereafter we were called in by my parents and told that the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor. My recollection from that point on was vague; however, I distinctly remember spending from about ten o’clock in the morning through the next day at Al and Marie Hasting’s house on Maunalani Heights, where in the evening of December 7th, we could see the entire area of Pearl Harbor in flames.

My father worked all day and all night as an ambulance driver with his 1939 Plymouth delivery truck. My parents thought it best we go to the highlands for fear of a Japanese land invasion. That’s about all I can tell you. My brother reminded me just the other day that we heard a loud explosion around 9:00 a.m. December 7th on Lewers Road which turned out to be a spent aircraft shell (our own), but which delayed our going to the highlands for fear that it was a shell from invading forces.”

    LukeHandCool in reply to LukeHandCool. | July 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    “About 100 classmates contrubuted their remembrances of that day as mostly seven- and eight-year-old kids.”

    —Sorry, “that day” refers to December 7, 1941, not VJ Day.

Midwest Rhino | July 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

My Mom took a ship over to Hawaii to marry one of those sailors shortly after this, and they lived there half a year.

I’m sorta glad we didn’t apologize and yield to the Japanese, for causing them to attack us. They didn’t treat their POWs too well back then. And I don’t imagine there was a lot of media telling Americans to consider what America had done to deserve the attack.

Great video.

    LukeHandCool in reply to Midwest Rhino. | July 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    My Japanese wife, like almost all Japanese people, thinks FDR knew the attack was coming and let it happen.

    She probably says that (hopefully) just to aggravate me.

    Her father was a seven-year-old boy when the war ended … and being trained to rush invading forces with a sharpened bamboo stick.

    Her mother was born nine months after her grandfather, who’d been on Truk and a POW, walked into town one day, long after he’d been given up for dead.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to LukeHandCool. | July 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      yeah, I think many still hold that rumor as fact. But in any case, they DID attack. There may have been some hatred toward the Japanese (and Germans) back then, but I’d say it pales in comparison to the treatment they gave their POW’s, Chinese and American (and Jewish).

      Today Americans are REQUIRED to bow to diversity, and ANY ethnic or cultural comments are mortal sins, unless it is to point out the racism and bigotry of traditional America.

      Meanwhile many of the countries of origin of these diversities are STILL abusive of diversity (of race, religion, gender or democratic creed). Being westernized or “democratized” is the best thing that ever happens to many of the darker (freedom wise) regions of the world … yet the diversity flag flies above the American flag … it would seem.

      This video shows some shamelessly proud Americans, before counter culture taught so many to “turn on, tune in, drop out” of all those old ways.

        LukeHandCool in reply to Midwest Rhino. | July 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm

        In 1995 we were living in Japan with our oldest daughter (then four years old), and we took a three-week vacation to Hawaii.

        One day my wife, our daughter, and I were having lunch at the hotel and there was a group of old veterans also having lunch in the restaurant.

        We were still eating when they finished, and as they were leaving, they all stopped at our table to pat our daughter on the head and tell us how cute they thought she was.

        It wasn’t until they’d left that I put two and two together and realized that it was the 50th anniversary of the end of the war and that, meeting there in Hawaii, they were probably veterans of the war in the Pacific.

        My wife was deeply touched that these old guys who’d fought in a horribly savage war as enemies of her people showed absolutely no hint of harboring ill feelings towards her as a Japanese, and, indeed, seemed to go out of their way to be kind.

        They thought our daughter was cute, but my wife said exactly that about them … “Kawaii nee.”

        Meaning, “They’re so cute.”

        Americans, like all people, aren’t perfect, but those men that day also deeply touched me and made me proud to be an American.

        We beat ourselves up too much about not being perfect. But we are a great force for good in this world.

        Especially on this day, let’s celebrate unashamedly what a great country we are.

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to LukeHandCool. | July 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm

          My father was in the Pacific War & also the Occupation force. He never spoke about it .

          However after he died I saw some pics he had taken. One had him – leaning over a bucket with his mate wielding high a Bushido sword above . Both were grinning & having fun.

          At 22 he had been shot down ,from the air , on the run through the jungle from Japs with bayonets & finally rescued by natives who also treated his burns with salves Then on to the land that bred this enemy..

          What he thought of the Japanese in later life I do not know. Once I was doing some Kanji & he picked up the book & started reading it . I never realized he spoke Japanese .

          This was more the reaction in this part of the world not “Oh isn’t she cute” stuff. Stoic silence.

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to LukeHandCool. | July 5, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Your wife may be right.

      Read the book, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor by Robert Stinnett, which contains declassified information about the radio intercepts, FBI operations in Hawaii and most importantly, information gleaned from the principal intelligence officers post-1980.

      As a historian who grew up on Morison and Prange, I always doubted the FDR conspiracy theories. However, so much of the evidence – footnoted and cited – contained in this book has given me great pause for reflection. The fact that Congress still cannot get to the bottom of this, as evidenced by hearings in the 1990s, and so much of it still classified as secret looks like the proverbial smoking gun.

      Read it with an open mind. It positively refutes much of the “official” positions still held by the US government. In 30-40 years, after many of us babyboomers are gone, this will probably get the scrutiny it deserves from historians without a cultural bias.

A wonderful glimpse of history paired with Jimmy Durante singing a wonderful song!

johnnycab23513 | July 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

My Step Father was theere then. They were reoutfitting for the invasion of the Japanese mainland after Iwo Jima. Most of the troops pictured would have died in that invasion had the war not ended then.

Wonderful film, I am struck by the joy and freedom of the moment. I can’t imagine going down a boulevard today standing on the hood of a car while your friends held you up, or having all your friends draped over the hood, fenders and trunk, Not a safety helmet in sight. A different time, a different generation, a different government.


Your humble and obediant servant.
My wife’s uncle [Stanley Day] was in the Navy in 1941, stationed in Hawaii. When the Japanese struck, no one knew what had happened to him. There was very limited telephone service and no internet since Gore was too young to have invented it. It took agonizing weeks to learn that he was OK. Her Father was in the Merchant Marine Service and survived many trips across the Atlantic. He was too old for the Navy or other branches of the Military, so he volunteered for the Merchant Marine. I am proud to have married his wonderful daughter.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Towson Lawyer. | July 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for the inclusion of The Merchant Marines who are too often unheralded. The British Merchant Navy suffered such huge attrition rates to the Ubombs so that 17 year olds were manning the decks.

    Thanks be to the Canadians who came in to help with a rickety & inexperienced navy but their corsairs were a mighty help. . Without them the convoys would have been totally decimated & the only supply line cut .

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | July 5, 2012 at 12:10 am

      Poor Bomber Command suffered an incredible rate of 74% killed, wounded, missing, POW or removed due to LMF. Then, when it was all over and everyone saw the terrible carnage wreaked by area-bombing, only Bomber Command was denied a campaign medal by the new Labour Government.

      Growing up, a good friend’s father crossed from Michigan to Canada in 1940 to sign up for the RAF. Even after her was reassigned to the USAAF after the US entry into the war, he stayed on operations with Bomber Command, though he was rated a Lieutenant from Flying Sargent. He flew 40 Operations in Wimpys and Halifaxes, went to an HCU as instructor cadre for eight months. Then, he came back as a Pathfinder in Canadian-built Lancasters and flew another 54 missions before he broke both legs crash-landing a damaged, fuel-starved Lancaster at of all places, and 8th Air Force B24 base. And… the guy who loaded him in the “meat wagon” was from his home town of Ypsilanti and knew some of the same people he did!

      God Bless the British for holding the line for two, terrible years!

        BannedbytheGuardian in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | July 5, 2012 at 1:32 am

        The good news is that all the great British 60s musicians were born during the war. They killed off Jazz for decades & gave us peace.

TrooperJohnSmith | July 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm

My father was at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, getting ready for the Olympic portion of Operation Downfall. He had just donated a pint of blood, knowing full well he might get it back when they invaded the homeland. After the horrible battle at Okinawa, few of them had any illusions about getting back home again.

Also, the guys getting ready to invade Japan were starting to hear complaints from the guys in Europe – especially the late-1944, early -45 replacements – who might have to sit occupation duty. They were also reading the news stories and hearing radio broadcasts from back home about the growing cries for peace from a population horrified by the Iwo Jima and Okinawa casualties.

There was also a growing division at home between the families of those who’d served in Europe, who thought their boys had ‘done their part’ and those folks who had boys in the Pacific, some of whom had made several major landings, and thought that troops from the ETO should be moved to the westpac for the Japan invasion. Truman and Marshall also knew that the USA was running out of manpower (almost one-fourth of the Depression-era recruits were unfit for service due to poor diet and medical care). No one was prepared to draft men over 30 with families. In short, the USA in September 1945 was, war weary.

Dad said that a lot of them wept and prayed when they found out it was over. He said celebrating was tempered by looking at the holes in their original ranks. It was overwhelming, he said, to be old at 21, and a fugitive from the law of averages. In their minds, they’d been handed a sudden reprieve, and it’s hard to cheer when so many close pals are dead.

Yes, we grew up only hearing the stories of how simple and good things were then, but when we looked at their eyes and saw them under pressure, did we realize our fathers were forged of different stuff than we were. Only when he saw his own death coming closer did Dad really spill what he’d had inside of him all those years. I feel eternally privileged that he did.