Two years ago today, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of one of America’s milestone events — the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Dec. 7, 2016, issue of the Herald featured excerpts from stories in the paper during the week or so after the Pearl Harbor attack. We focused on the reactions of local residents and on the immediate preparations for war that dominated headlines then, and indeed would dominate them for most of the next four years.
But we also added perspective to the feature by interviewing several longtime Baker City residents about their recollections of that day and its aftermath.
I was rereading their stories the other day, as the anniversary neared, and it struck me, with some force, that of the six people we talked with in 2016, three have died -— Doug Smurthwaite, Bill Wendt and Carl Kostol.
This in itself isn’t shocking, of course.
Seventy-five years is a goodly span. Wendt was 93 when we interviewed him, Kostol 94 and Smurthwaite 85.
The significance, it seemed to me, is that not many years will pass before we can no longer replicate that story from 2016. The history of Pearl Harbor is amply documented in newspapers and magazines and in thousands of books, to be sure.
Yet there is something irreplaceable about being able to listen to people tell their stories, to hear the timbre of their voices and to see the emotions transform their faces.
I was reminded, as I often am in this business, of the potential price of procrastination.
-— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor