By: Virginia Ferris
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. This event touched the lives of all Americans, including students here at NC State at the time.
In an oral history interview with William C. Friday, Friday describes his memories of first hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor while he was a student at NC State (known at the time as State College), and its impact on his life. William Friday graduated from State College in 1941 with a degree in Textile Manufacturing, and went on to serve as President of the University of North Carolina system from 1956-1986.
Friday’s oral history can be heard as part of the Student Leadership Initiative, along with many other interviews with former student leaders over the years.
The Technician newspaper includes other evidence of the impact of Pearl Harbor on students at NC State. According to the student newspaper on Feb. 7, 1942, NC State student Robert Westbrook was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Westbrook, a Raleigh native, was a radio operator in a bomber.
Almost one year after the attack, on Dec. 4, 1942, the Technician describes a “quiet observance” planned to take place at the Memorial Bell Tower, honoring “those alumni killed at Pearl Harbor or in other war action.” As part of the ceremony, ROTC units marched to the Bell Tower and played taps, one moment of silence was observed, and no speeches were made.
More student reactions to Pearl Harbor and other military events over the years can be found in digitized issues of the Technician, available through our Rare & Unique Digital Collections. If you are interested in exploring or learning more about these or other collections in the Special Collections Research Center, please contact us.