Remembering Pearl Harbor

In the Spring of 1943, the Associated Women Students at Pacific University created a service flag to honor those serving in the war and those who had been killed. A newspaper clipping including this photo is on display in the Pacific University Library in honor of the Pearl Harbor anniversary.

Dec. 7, 1941

A Pacific University Archives display recalls the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II and helps us remember those who served ... and who serve today.

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On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i.

Meant to keep the United States out of military actions in Southeast Asia, the attack had the opposite effect: It launched the United States into World War II, in both the Pacific and European theaters.

Today, in recognition of the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Pacific University Archives has created a display in the Library of memorabilia from WWII.

Propaganda leaflets encourage Japanese fighters to surrender for the sakes of their families and children and encourage American soldiers to accept such surrender. Donated photographs show bombed warplanes smoldering during the Pearl Harbor attack and seamen abandoning a damaged ship in the South Pacific. A binder of letters written by John Seus ’39, serving in Europe, to his parents in Hillsboro portray a young man worried about his friends, some presumed dead or taken prisoner.

The war had a profound effect on the entire world — and on Pacific University. More than 500 Pacific University students and alumni were drafted or volunteered for service in World War II, according to Pacific archivist Eva Guggemos. At the height of action, only about 25 male students remained on campus, while the female students left behind organized donation drives and served in noncombat roles.

After the war, hundreds of veterans came to Pacific on GI Bills — and 31 students and alumni didn’t come home at all.

Much has been written about Pacific University during that generation.

In the Fall 2010 issue of Pacific magazine, freelancer and alumnus Sig Unander ’87 featured several of the students and alumni who served.

Each February, the alumni love stories collected for Valentine’s Day tell of war brides and soon-to-ship-out grooms.

For me, these memories spark another question: Where are the similar stories today?

Pacific University, like so many around the country, is experiencing an increase in students attending on GI Bills. As veterans come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, many are looking for further education and job training at universities like Pacific. What stories do they have to tell us? What do they add to the fabric of Pacific University? What does it mean, today, to be the military wife (or husband) left on the home front?

That's one of the stories we hope to tell in our Spring 2013 issue of Pacific magazine. Writer Wanda Laukkanen is talking to students and alumni who are veterans or on active service. (Read her story of alumnus Col. Carol Rymer O.D. '92 and Blake Timm's story about current student and football player Caleb Wistock, who took a break from Pacific to complete basic training).

If you have a story to tell — of your own recent military service, or of a loved one serving — we invite you to let us know by emailing

In the meantime, we take a moment to salute the memory of those brave men (and women — Mary Selfridge Callison ’41 was among the 31 Pacific students and alumni who lost their lives) of World War II.