From Our Files: Paradise at War
Throughout 2013—our 125th anniversary year—From Our Files will focus on a different theme each month, looking back at how particular aspects of life in Honolulu were lived and reported on by HONOLULU Magazine and its predecessor, Paradise of the Pacific.
The world was engulfed in its first global war and Paradise of the Pacific reported on it regularly. This article emphasized the opportunities for advancement afforded by the mobilization of troops for combat in Europe. “In Hawaii Territory over ten thousand troops are stationed,” wrote Paradise. “Transfers are sudden and numerous. [Pictured here] is James Lawrence King, formerly a corporal in the Supply Company of the Second Infantry, stationed at Fort Shafter, Honolulu. He is but twenty-two years of age and has been called to active service under a commission as First Lieutenant of Infantry, being assigned to the 32nd Regiment at Schofield Barracks. His case is an example of many similar opportunities in process of realization. Honolulu, though 2,000 miles from San Francisco, in mid-Pacific, is as full of the spirit of ‘making the world free for democracy’ as is any other city of the United States.”
Through the 1930s, Paradise, then edited by a retired military man, Edwin North McClellan, warned repeatedly about military preparedness and the possibility of war with Japan. Even this article about the Pearl Harbor-based search for missing pilot Amelia Earhart focused on the naval might stationed here. “Admiral Murfin’s force was composed of about ten ships; and about sixty-six planes, including the land-planes of the carrier Lexington, three observation seaplanes of the battleship Colorado; and one PBY1 (6P3) patrol seaplane of the Fleet Air Base; with personnel of about 3,000.” Though Earhart and co-pilot Fred J. Noonan were never found, the magazine hoped that “these operations, receiving national publicity, made Americans more Pacific-Air conscious … and may result in America securing national possession of certain Pacific Islands.”
World War II is over! To celebrate, Paradise runs these two photos side by side, contrasting Pearl Harbor lit with explosions on Dec. 7, 1941, with a Pearl Harbor ignited with celebratory fireworks and searchlights in 1945. Writes Paradise, “Word of the impending Japanese surrender reached Hawaii shortly after three o’clock in the morning. Hickam Field went wild with joy, with men racing through the barracks awakening those who still slept, and telephoning their civilian friends in Honolulu. Radios were switched on and telephones jingled in thousands of homes … Hawaii, which was affected by the war more than any other area of the country, could scarcely comprehend at first the far-reaching implications of the event, as far as life in this community is concerned. The first dazed reaction was simply one of joy that the countless thousands of men in uniform who have swarmed through these ports would no longer be facing death in battle, nor suffer much longer the anguish of homesickness.”
The Korean War started just five years after the end of World War II, lasting from June 1950 to July 1953. During these years, readers of Paradise saw advertisements such as these, encouraging people to buy U.S. savings bonds in support of the war. However, editorially, the magazine was more focused on the boom time Hawaii was experiencing, writing about new housing for the poor and middle class, or the elegant homes of society ladies, profiling craftspeople and fine artists, collecting histories and legends of Hawaii’s different ethnic groups. Peace and prosperity reigned on Paradise pages.
Paradise of the Pacific became HONOLULU Magazine with this issue, under the co-editorship of Cynthia and David Eyre. The pair instituted a department called “Commentary,” consisting of short, pithy observations about anything that crossed their minds—including the Vietnam War, in their inaugural issue. “We would certainly like to make a sage observation about Vietnam but a magazine such as HONOLULU must close its pages about 10 days before the presses roll and anything can happen in 10 days in Vietnam. Henry Cabot Lodge may have been fired; the Saigon Little League baseball boys may have sacked the U.S. embassy; Madame Ky could very well be ‘The New Dragon Lady’ by now. You see, it’s utterly impossible to comment knowledgably. We have a feeling the State Department shares our problem.”
HONOLULU Magazine declares as its Islander of the Year the Hawaii Soldier. Wrote then-editor John Heckathorn, “We define Islander of the Year as the person or persons who had the most impact on the rest of us over the past year. We made The Hawaii Soldier our Islander of the Year, because we realized the war in Iraq had had a powerful effect on Island life. Not only were nearly 10,000 regular troops stationed in Hawaii sent to the Middle East, emptying bases and the small businesses surrounding them, but 2,000 Hawaii men and women were mobilized as part of the National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team. … Hawaii has not deployed this many Guard members since the Vietnam War. As you can imagine, these 18-month separations can be difficult for many local families and businesses. Most of these men and women have civilian jobs—they’re students, police officers, construction workers, executives.”