Yesteryear: Pearl Harbor attacks had impact on life in Kingman

The USS Arizona was the most heavily damaged ship and also suffered the most casualties during the attack on Pearl Harbor. 1,177 men died on the ship. (Courtesy)

The USS Arizona was the most heavily damaged ship and also suffered the most casualties during the attack on Pearl Harbor. 1,177 men died on the ship. (Courtesy)

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in what would mark the entrance of the United States into World War II.

The attack was a major tactical victory for the Japanese. With 353 aircraft in two waves, the Japanese managed to destroy 188 U.S. aircraft, damage all eight U.S. Navy battleships - sinking four of them - sink or damage three cruisers and three destroyers, kill 2,403 Americans and wound another 1,178.

The attack shocked the United States, almost universally turning all support for non-interventionism toward fighting the Japanese. The effects of Pearl Harbor were felt all over the country.

Thursday, Dec. 11, 1941

Absent from the front page of the Mohave County Miner in Kingman was any major mention of Pearl Harbor. Instead of dominating front-page headlines, the beginning of World War II was covered primarily through shorter pieces on how Americans will defend the home front.

One of these articles discussed the Coast Defense Blackout Area, with Kingman being part of that area. In the event that the Japanese ever raided the coastal United States, the Pacific coast would go dark in order to prevent the Japanese from finding their targets.

By Dec. 11, only four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many communities along the coast and inland were establishing community wardens tasked with getting the community dark in the event that the Japanese invaded. Here's an example of how they did that in Kingman:

Word was received yesterday by C. L. Kenney, chief radio operator of the local Civil Aeronautic Authority station that the area along the beam from the coast to Flagstaff, Ariz., was part of the blackout area.

He was further informed to be prepared to shut off all beams, lights and signals on a warning of fifteen minutes. Although instructions have not yet been received from the army, local defense and county officials believe that due to the fact that it is a well known landmark and because of its proximity to the dam that Kingman should be prepared to blackout when the signal comes.

The home defense committee under the direction of George F. Williston, county chairman, held a meeting last night at which they appointed O. W. Gruninger chief warden for Kingman and at which they began the organization of a blackout system which could completely darken the town at a few moments notice.

An assistant to Gruninger and wardens and assistants for eleven sections of Kingman and vicinity with the duty and authority to enforce blackouts will be appointed today and another meeting will be held this evening to formulate plans and perfect the organization.

It is planned to hold a public mass meeting in the near future to educate the public as to their actions in case of a blackout.

The work of the blackout wardens appears even more important in the light of the fact that the town of Needles was completely blacked out last night.

By that time, blackouts were already set up and affecting daily life in larger cities such as Las Vegas:

Owning to the defense blackout regulations in Las Vegas, Nev., the Kingman-Las Vegas game which was scheduled to be played tomorrow evening has been moved up to an afternoon game according to an announcement made by Coach Matt Hanhila this morning.

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Fears of foreign forces spread quickly throughout the nation, and proof of citizenship was a critical strategy in determining friend and foe in the United States. Kingman, like other communities, pushed for proof of citizenship for all Americans:

Due to the rigid censorship now in practice by the federal government, especially near defense industries, people who are forced to travel sometimes find it very necessary to be able to provide their citizenship.

Miss Mary E. Carrow, county recorder, announced today that her office will be glad to furnish voter's certificates to any registered voter in Mohave County, which can be carried easily in a purse or pocket and which furnish a splendid means of identification.

This is a gratis service of the recorder's office to citizens.

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Many newspaper reporters and editors around the nation channeled the emotions of their communities into rhetoric pushing for a united nation against a tough enemy, back at a time when victory was uncertain and the future was unclear:

A United People Aroused

Seldom in the history of the newspaper industry has the editorial columns of all of them been so universally in accord. The present war with Japan has brought the editorial writers of the entire nation to a common viewpoint. But unity is not alone the only characteristic that has marked editorial columns.

These columns which are devoted to discussions of all public matters of nation-wide contemplation, but also to the smallest of local affairs in which the separate community is interested, under the stress of this war emergency, have universally printed the unified thoughts of the citizenry of America. The editorial column today is seeking to remove from the minds of its readers every vestige of doubt or fear of the result. These columns are likewise instructing the citizenry in what to do and how it should be done when any local emergency arises. The editors of the nation's press are unanimously coordinating their forces to the defense of the public mind and to keep it in a state of sanity and free it from the hazards of panic or nervous breakdown.

Americans have been slow to anger and slow to act in the ordinary affairs of the day, but when once aroused every physical and mental attainment is raised to its highest efficiency. American has been slugged in the back before and taken the assault sanely but the final decisions were always for Americans just as they will be this time.

Even though your family or mine may be visited with the sadness of death, there is something glorious and greater in knowing that the sacrifice has been made for the final freeing of the human soul and the eradication from the world the evil and barbarous sentiment of total serfdom as presented by totalitarian annihilation of personal liberty and happiness. The law of the universe will never change and its enforcement is in the hands of a free people, to whom the sacrifice of lives is but a duty bravely performed with the certainty that somehow and somewhere there will be a just reward for the sorrows and sacrifices of today.

While four-fifths of this now unhappy and distorted world are a unit against the assault of the unholy and the ungodly hordes of aggression, they are to be made to suffer and to fight an unsought war of defense for human freedom, if they are to retain their individual liberty and preserve honor and justice for all the people of the world.