Remembering Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor pants
“Remember Pearl Harbor” novelty underpants (DHS collection)

Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, a day when we remember and honor the more than 2000 soldiers and sailors who died in the Japanese attack on the American military base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The attack came as a devastating surprise, and “Remember Pearl Harbor” became a rallying cry that ultimately united Americans in favor of entering the fray that was World War II. On the home front, the slogan also appeared on a huge array of items (everything from badges and pins to housewares, clothing, and novelty items) that have now become treasured World War II collectibles.

One such item from our collection captures the spirit of the times perfectly, albeit with a bit of extra levity. This small (only 4” x 6”) bright yellow rayon novelty item, made up to look like a pair of lace-trimmed ladies’ drawers, has black printed text: “Remember Pearl Harbor / Don’t be caught with your pants down.” Although the message about the importance of preparedness was a serious one, these miniature underpants were fun novelty gift and souvenir items during the early 1940s and, in addition to the “Remember Pearl Harbor” slogan, were also sometimes printed with postcard-like greetings from various locations.


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