My Family's War-Time Story

Note from the editor: As we begin this week by reflecting on the sacrifices made by Americans during times of war, we wanted to share this personal story, shared with us by contributor, Jennifer Delos Santos. May we not forget the sacrifices made around the world during fearful times, and may we all work towards a more accepting and peaceful tomorrow. Passing down war-time stories across generations.

Each person has his or her own family history. Whether it includes a divorce, a milestone, or even death, each is unique, yet relatable to someone else’s. Part of my family history involves my grandparents during World War II. Honestly, if it were not for my eighth grade history project, I would have never known the details of what my grandparents encountered. While I was learning about WWII back in eighth grade, my social studies teacher enforced the memorization of the beginning of President Roosevelt’s speech. "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan."My grandparents experienced more than one infamous day, especially my grandfather, or as my family call him, “Tata.” If he were still alive, I would have thanked him for what he did.  I can admit that he is a source of inspiration. I’m not sure if I can do what he did if faced with a similar situation. My grandmother, “Ima,” was there the whole time too and the war justifies how brave they both were. As I learned from my mother, the Japanese were killing all of the men, but not the women.  Why? I am not sure. On top of being poor, my grandparents had to confront the Japanese. But before they reached the nipa hut of my grandparents, Tata planned ahead. He dressed up as one of the women and wore a dress along with a bandana on his head while holding a baby in his arms. I am not sure if the baby was one of my older aunts or uncles or someone else’s baby, but what matters is that he was not killed. The disguise saved his life and the Japanese only pierced the ceiling of the nipa hut with bayonets to ensure that no one was hiding. This incident was long before my mother was born and I always think about how crucial this event was. Without their sacrifice, my mother wouldn’t be here nor would I. After the war subsided, one of my older aunts traveled to the U.S. and settled in New York. She then petitioned my grandparents and other members of my family, eventually leading to the petitioning of my mother as well. Therefore, more importantly, because my grandfather survived, he was able to live in the U.S. and become a U.S. citizen.Everyone has an interesting story to be told. This is one of mine. I’m sure that I will be passing this story down to my family and beyond. It is something that my family can be proud of and proves how an act of bravery can be significant. Tata made a difference in my family by surviving the Japanese. If he hadn’t survived, I wouldn’t be here writing about it.