A new perspective of the attack on Pearl Harbor: The recollections of the kids who survived that day and the effects on their lives.
THE VIDEO PREVIEW: STIRRING RECOLLECTIONS OF THE MORNING OF THE ATTACK. THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF CONTENT, BUT NOT NECESSARILY OF THE FINAL PROJECT.
When You Are Six, You Look Up At The World
For every soldier, sailor, and civilian at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the world was shattered. Lives were broken as the rainstorm of a Japanese sneak attack shattered that Sunday morning.
From the perspective of children, though, the falling bombs and the screams of the injured were multiplied tenfold in their young minds. When you’re six years old, the world is something you look up at. Imagine the thoughts of the youngsters that looked skyward that morning, only to see fighter planes spitting bullets at their homes.
Joanne Adams was a kid at Pearl Harbor seventy years ago. That day, she stared into the eyes of a Japanese pilot from the front yard of her military-base home. A few hours later, Joanne’s naval aviator father was at war.
That morning, Joe Estores was about to go fishing with his soldier father. But soon, Joe’s dad was called away, too, as all military personnel were needed to defend Oahu. Joe’s mother would then have to drive her family directly through the Japanese target zone, seeking safety on the other side.
Young Anne Shambaugh never saw her Naval Commander father again after that morning. Author Joan Zuber Earle survives today, and recalls how on December 7 of ’41, she examined a piece of the mighty USS Arizona that landed squarely in her front yard after the battleship exploded.
Only about 150 are known to live today, but the “Children of Pearl Harbor,” who saw their playground paradise become a battlefield, tell tales of December 7 unlike any other survivors of that day.
A New Kind Of Story About A Terrible Time
Children of Pearl will bring a new kind of survivors’ story to history lovers, one that can only come from the perspective of those who watched their parents become the first Americans to fall under the shadow of World War II.
Interviews with nearly two dozen child survivors of Pearl Harbor will show the audience how servicemen from all over America brought their families to the Pacific. A picture of pre-war Hawaii will be painted by the memories of the children of servicemen stationed at the bases there and by those who were born on the islands. The lush Pacific gardens made for an idyllic place to grow up, and famed historian Daniel Martinez (host of Unsolved History) will describe the home life of Honolulu-area families.
Then, the recollections of army brats and fun-loving adolescents switch to December 7. The first bombs fell about 8 AM and it was over before 10. But for the children at Pearl, the morning felt like an eternity. Many saw their parents panic, and were frightened not just by streaking planes, but also by frantic soldiers. One recalls an army airman engulfed in flames, searching hopelessly for help.
Children of Pearl opens the memories of those who tried to continue growing up in Hawaii. Many found themselves evacuated from their island home to the mainland, while children who stayed in the islands were given new roles. Some went from learning to tie shoelaces to learning how to don gas masks. Others were even instructed how to load and fire machine guns.
The Pearl Harbor Kids all tell of the awe they still feel for their moms and dads, who were keeping them safe in a newly dangerous world. Family life changed for these children and they grew up haunted by what they saw. Most child survivors tell listeners today that the experience made them better citizens, never taking America for granted. The audience may be surprised to hear how the child survivors look at the world and America’s adversaries – then and now.
Children of Pearl‘s survivor interviews will be augmented by narration. Besides the American children who lived in Hawaii, viewers will hear from Hawaiian kids who were living on the periphery of the attack. Japanese citizens living in Hawaii raised families too, and the stories of those children reflect their new status after December 7.
Helping complete the story are historians and experts in child trauma. Illustrations will come from the personal photos and cherished mementos of the survivors.
Finally, the experiences of that time will be literally illustrated, by the pen of a children’s artist, with subtle animation bringing flat art to life.
Understanding a historical event requires the viewpoint of all the people who were present, no matter their age. Military kids and other children who witnessed the attacks on Pearl Harbor and other military bases have much to tell the world about how that day unfolded, and how times progressed afterwards for both themselves and others.
Children of Pearl brings a heretofore-unvoiced perspective of Pearl Harbor to a waiting audience.
Our Last Chance?
The reality is that the window is closing on this story. Pearl Harbor child survivor numbers are far fewer than the military personnel who survived the attack, and more are lost each year. The completion of Children of Pearl will ensure that their stories are not lost, too. Without our film, we believe a valuable historical record may never be properly visualized.
A Project For Public Benefit
Children of Pearl is a venture for public gain. Your support allows us to offer a piece of history to presenters at no cost. While Home Stand will hold the rights to the film, it will be offered to public television and IPTV services for unlimited broadcasting and streaming.
The DVD will be available at the typical price point for this kind of content, but we do not expect a sizeable demand beyond the Pearl Harbor Survivor Community (including the Sons and Daughters groups) and related museums and libraries.
Our Need For Completion Funds
With Pearl Harbor now 70 years past, it's time to bring this documentary to the world in the diamond anniversary year.
We’re searching for the funds that will take us to the finishing line in 2012: $69,000. We still need to crisscross the country collecting the stories of those child survivors waiting to tell them. We’ve found people literally from coast-coast: From Massachusetts to San Diego, from North Carolina to Missouri, and from Florida to Ohio. And we’re being asked back to Pearl, of course, where some child survivors still reside, and want to show us the places where playgrounds became battlegrounds.
Your backing provides for travel expenses for producers and crew, equipment rental, research assistance, and all the other things needed to put Children of Pearl into the venues eager to accept it. We’ll be providing work for talented people, none less than a children’s book illustrator who can give Children a stirring visual element.
And the thank-you incentives depend wholly on a finished documentary.
Home Stand is a partnership of producers and associates – A place where we come from our separate corporate and broadcast assignments to explore subjects of our interest and present the results to the world.
Projects like Children of Pearl are not designed as much from the perspective of business as from dedication to the topic.
Since we started the project in 2011, all the expenses of the project have come from our own resources, including our Hawaii interviews and others here on the mainland. Hundreds of hours have been dedicated to the concept already. This work proved to us that the recollections of the child survivors were not only important, but compelling as well.
Now, we’re thankful for your help as we complete the story.
Learn more at childrenofpearl.com.
To complete Children of Pearl, we need to travel to a lot of locations across the country to interview those child survivors still on our list. We’ve found folks anxious to tell their stories in Massachusetts, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio and elsewhere. We travel lightly, using a crew of as few as three people, but travel we must. Once the rest of our interviews are completed, we’ll be editing the recordings for presentation in the documentary, of course. But there will a long list of needs then, too. Tasks like acquiring the rights to use historical photographs and music are part of the completion process. And we hope to add a unique feature: Fresh illustrations of the recollections of the child survivors created by a illustrator who specializes in children’s stories.
Home Stand LLC is a collaborative between producers and people with interest in specific topics, such as unsung historical events. While the company is a for-profit venture, it has no employees and is not today driven by a profit margin. The goal of Home Stand is to create worthwhile programming, and eventually recover the personal investments of our members, all of whom have careers outside our company. In short, it’s a place where we partner to create, offering our work to the marketplace, and then moving on to our next subject.
About 30% of the interviews and other shots needed for completion have been recorded so far. We were so enthralled with the stories told by the survivors we met that we were sure we wanted to continue.
Yes. All the travel to date, including to Hawaii in 2010 for the December 7 commemorations, has been out-of-pocket (our pockets, that is). We’ve also covered the costs of video equipment, crew, and editing the example you can watch here and on YouTube. As you can imagine, we’ve invested many hours just in the effort of reaching out to the community of child survivors. We believe in our project and have pushed it as far as we can without further support.
We will be offering the documentary to any venue that would like to show it. A number of public television stations have expressed an interest, and others are clearly committed to airing our movie. That may not provide any revenue, but, again, that is not our first goal. We’re also very interested in the new niche streaming channels that people are watching through devices like the Roku box, and Apple TV. Amazon and Netflix also offer a potential home for our show. History museums use more and more video displays all the time, and short edits of our documentary might useful there. Some cable programmers may offer a fee for use of the documentary, and if so, we’ll likely channel that return into our next project – whatever that might be.
It’s sad to say, but the project will likely be terminated. Like many documentaries, there are broadcasters and Internet channels that will show Children of Pearl when it is completed. But because there are so many niche subjects out there, not enough can be funded for broadcast. That’s why Kickstarter is so important to us.
Clearly, it’s been the delight of the child survivors. Not just in telling their stories, but in simply being asked to do so. This group of Pearl Harbor survivors, far fewer than the surviving military personnel, long for the chance to tell their stories. But they don’t ask for this opportunity to brag about themselves. They want people of this era to understand the sacrifices made by their parents and others all those years ago. They were young, but their minds were keen, and they were eyewitnesses to a moment in time that echoes to this day.
Yes, we want to collect data from anyone who was present as a child at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, whether part of a military family or not. We’re particularly interested in finding any person of Japanese ancestry who was part of the Hawaiian community, and under the age of 18 at the time of the attack. Since launching our blog (childrenofpearl.com), we’ve heard from at least six child survivors new to us, each with a fascinating story.
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