Opening to the public on Tuesday, October 25th in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the attack, the Frazier Museum presents A Morning That Changed the World: Personal Stories of Pearl Harbor. The immersive, thought-provoking exhibition delves into this fateful event with stories told by people who experienced this moment in history.
The exhibit will feature the Rex Knight Collection of letters, photographs, and mementos from both servicemen and civilians that will leave visitors with a heightened feeling of a connection to the individuals that experienced those long two hours of horror and chaos. The result was not only vulnerability and fear, but also anger, nationalism and patriotism. The world was forever changed.
As visitors step into the exhibit, they will be transported to December 6th, 1941 – the evening before the attack. With the sounds of glasses clinking and music playing, the innocent and joyous atmosphere of a party in the Officer’s Club on the island sets the stage for what life was like before the profound and unforeseen events that are about to take place. On that clear and beautiful evening, Lt. General Walter Short looked out onto the lights of all of the ships in Pearl Harbor and noted, “What a target that would make!”
Visitors will walk through the hallway of a battleship as they arrive to that fateful morning and find themselves standing under a Japanese fighter plane. With objects, mementos, letters, visuals and sound, the attack and the immediate aftermath come to life through the stories of the servicemen and civilians that experienced Pearl Harbor.
One such story is of Dorie Miller, a messman in the still racially segregated U.S. Navy. But on December 7, 1941, Miller went above and beyond the call of duty for his fellow servicemen and his country, moving his injured captain to safety and defending his battleship by manning a .50 caliber machine gun, on which he had never been trained, as his ship sank. Miller became the first African American to receive the Navy Cross, presented for courage under fire.
What began as a college football game series in Hawaii led to the heroism of 23 young men from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, as they watched with confusion as bombs exploded near their hotel, and were called into action immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The entire football team was enlisted by the army to help defend the island, given rifles with bayonets as they dug trenches on the beach, assisted injured children at the Army hospital, and protected the vital water towers and storage tanks. After returning home to Oregon, almost the entire team enlisted in the army.
Heavily censored letters and political propaganda lead visitors through the aftermath of the attack and through the gates of a Japanese internment camp, to a generation forever changed.
“History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.” – Mark Twain. As present day emerges, marked by a memorial wall, the exhibit will explore the events of September 11, 2001, the next attack on the United States.
On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2016, the Frazier will host a commemoration and opening reception of Personal Stories of Pearl Harbor, as part of the City’s Week of Valor. Following the Veteran’s Day Parade, a ribbon cutting will be led by parade Grand Marshal Charles Hocker, a Louisville native and Pearl Harbor survivor, and collector Rex Knight, with special recognition of Tuskegee Airman Frank Weaver and a performance by the Youth Performing Arts School Choir. Veterans and military personnel are invited to attend the ribbon cutting and viewing of the exhibition at no cost. Regular museum admission applies to non-veteran and non-military personnel. More details on this event are forthcoming.