101-year-old speaks to students about Pearl Harbor

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:58 PM CDT
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STRAWBERRY, Ark. (KAIT) - One of the darkest days in American history came to life Wednesday afternoon for Hillcrest High School Students.

At the age of 101, Catherine Ponder remembers all too well the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.

“I remember hearing all the thunder,” Ponder explained. “It was just a complete roar of those bombs that they dropped.”

Ponder, who is originally from Walnut Ridge, was living near the base in Hawaii with her husband, who was a military member.

She was home with her two-month-old child when the attack happened while her husband was at sea.

Ponder and her child were unharmed, but she was unsure of her husband’s condition for weeks.

“Six or seven weeks before I had a letter from him,” Ponder continued. “That was the only way that we had any correspondence or heard from anyone was by letter.”

Ponder said learning her husband was still alive was a feeling like no other.

“It’d be hard to describe how happy you were,” she said. “You just thank God that he was alive.”

She expressed her thanks for the opportunity to speak to Hillcrest students, hoping they learned something from it.

“It’s a very important part of American history, she said. “I hope they are appreciating the great teaching they are getting in these schools.”

History teacher Randy Story, who organized Wednesday’s event, said first-hand accounts are an excellent way to learn about history.

“For the kids to be able to actually experience the narrative from someone who was there for such a pivotal moment in US history and any world history is very enlightening for them,” he explained.

Students asked Ponder questions about what it was like to live through war times, among other things.