71 years later, a young female reporter’s firsthand account of Pearl Harbor is published for the first time

A really moving piece in today’s Washington Post: Hono­lulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Betty McIntosh was a young reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Later she worked for the CIA. Click here for an interview with the now 97-year old McIntosh.

McIntosh wrote a first-person account about the days after the attack — a story largely about women and for women. Her editor decided not to publish it.

From McIntosh’s exquisitely written unpublished piece, now finally printed by the Washington Post:

I reported for work immediately on Sunday morning when the first news — Oahu is being attacked — crackled over the radio, sandwiched in a church program.

Like the rest of Hawaii, I refused to believe it. All along the sunny road to town were people just coming out of church, dogs lazy in the driveways, mynas in noisy convention.

Then, from the neighborhood called Punchbowl, I saw a formation of black planes diving straight into the ocean off Pearl Harbor. The blue sky was punctured with anti-aircraft smoke puffs. Suddenly, there was a sharp whistling sound, almost over my shoulder, and below, down on School Street. I saw a rooftop fly into the air like a pasteboard movie set.

For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months.

There are some grim images in the piece — of young lives cut short, of confusion and terror. It’s easy to see how an editor could balk at publishing something so raw.

But it should have been printed, certainly.