Editor’s Page: Honor

Time to remember.
Robbie Dingeman
Photo: Adam Jung

Each December brings us memories. We recall family holiday traditions as we strive to honor those that matter and ignore the more commercial, manic aspects of the season. But this December holds more memories than most, as we observe the 75th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into World War II and forever changed our Island community.


Here at the magazine, we search for the untold stories, speak with the people that make our Island home special, explore the issues that keep us up at night. With Pearl Harbor, we feel the civilian side of the story is often lost, so we focused there, with the able help of veteran writer Willis David Hoover, who has covered the Pearl Harbor story for decades.


Hoover knows his history and is a meticulous researcher, but we also needed someone with the gift of gab, someone folks wanted to invite into their homes to talk about that painful day long ago. He delivered, bringing us stories of those hit hardest by U.S. antiaircraft fire in ‘Ālewa Heights that Sunday morning, and other tales, shared here.


With Pearl Harbor, we feel the civilian side of the story is often lost, so we focused there.


We began planning for this issue months ago and asked our readers to help. Our July call for stories prompted an outpouring of letters, emails and even some calls. Kama‘āina reader Anna Derby Blackwell sent us so much good material that we included a story about her family’s experience. Even people living in other states reached out. Judge Kimberly
Frankel, of Portland, Oregon, emailed, then took the time to mail us photos and clippings about her parents’ wartime experience. Here’s a 1941 photo of her parents, Henry Frankel and Maria Maiden, who married during the war.


Henry Frankel and Maria Maiden
Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Frankel


To see more, turn to our Feedback page to read some excerpts of these memories in a special edition. Read the longer versions and additional memories on the web at bit.ly/hnpearlharbor.


People are gathering in Honolulu from across the country for this anniversary, as many of those who remember it firsthand are getting older or have passed away. As we go to press, only five of more than 300 USS Arizona survivors are still alive. Hoover checked in with one of them, Lauren Bruner, the next-to-the-last man to make it off the USS Arizona alive, a harrowing experience. Bruner’s planning to be back this month for the ceremonies. Read more about him and learn about the next big trip he’s planning: a peace mission to Hiroshima.


Another story in our magazine comes fraught with memories: the demise of Big Sugar, as the state’s last sugar plantation shuts down on Maui at the end of this month. Yet this story is not a sad eulogy, it’s a glimpse into the resiliency of people as the plantation community looks ahead to the next chapter. Executive editor Michael Keany was the writer for the job: As a Maui boy whose father worked in sugar and pineapple, he was able to tell the story with special depth, heart and the background to understand the hurdles as our state struggles to expand agriculture in a challenging time.


Sadly, it’s a story that resonates with many of us who have lived through major layoffs in  plantation towns, airlines and businesses (including journalism) across our state.


Some of the news from the world of farming is good, as we learn in our cover story: The Essential Guide to Local Fruit. Intrepid food and dining editor Catherine Toth Fox led our team in a fascinating look at the changing world of local fruit. 


Here’s to good memories.


Find out what 75th anniversary commemoration activities you can attend: pearlharbor75thanniversary.com


Thoughts about the magazine? Please email me at robbied@honolulumagazine.com.