Students learn about Pearl Harbor through voices of local veterans
On Dec. 7, 1941, a stunned nation sat listening to radio newscasts detailing the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor.
It seemed fitting then, on the same day and time, students at Basehor-Linwood High School should hear a presentation over the public address system detailing the events of that fateful day in American history.
The Basehor Veterans of Foreign Wars gave a 10-minute presentation on Pearl Harbor similar to what people heard on their radios 60 years ago.
It was the same news Basehor VFW member Dwight Runnels heard coming home from work in 1941.
"I was coming to dinner and the news came on the radio and I thought it was a joke," Runnels said. "Before, we knew from listening to the president on the radio that we were on the brink of war and then Pearl Harbor happened. Right then, I felt we were at war."
At age 19, Runnels was at the right age to be drafted into military service and in fact came to the Basehor area to be with his family before being drafted.
Serving in the Army infantry, Runnels was involved in World War II until the German army surrendered.
With the presentation, the VFW hoped to spark an interest in students as well as help them appreciate the magnitude of Pearl Harbor, said Bob Wiley, Basehor VFW commander.
"I think it is something they may or may not understand right now, but as time goes on they might remember what went on and get interested in it," Wiley said. "If they don't accept it now, they may later in life."
The presentation is a valuable resource for teaching history and is part of the Basehor VFW's educational program, Runnels said.
"I think it is a form of history teaching they are being offered," he said. "I remember talking to World War I veterans and it was interesting to me."
Basehor VFW member Jerral Cooper agreed with Runnels.
"I think it is a tremendous learning medium for kids," Cooper said. "I suspect every one has seen the movie, so it may be more real to them now."