This event was a lesson in survival and being proud to be an American citizen. The crowd traveled back in time to the years 1942-1945 in war torn Manila. Mosely and Barkas described in vivid detail their experiences and earliest childhood memories of life in Manila during the war years. Barkas went on to include his pride in becoming an American citizen and what it means to him.
It was early Monday morning, the 8th of December 1941, just hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Zero fighters of the Empire of Japan flew to the Philippines in tight formation from the north, directing their attention to Manila, bombing strategic military targets. Panic quickly surged through the city of 800,000. The civilians of Manila prepared for the worst as banks were mobbed; stores were quickly emptied of canned goods and supplies. Within a few days, the Commonwealth President Quezon quickly declared Manila an "Open City" to avoid further destruction of what was then known as the “Pearl of the Orient”.
During this time over 3700 Americans, British, Australians and other Allied civilians would be interned at the centuries-old University of Santo Tomas. Prisoners built private shacks or shanties for their families around campus buildings, after the Japanese occupation of Manila, Santo Tomas main building was used to hold civilian POWs, and classrooms for sleeping quarters from January 4, 1942 - February 3, 1945.
These prisoners endured many hardships including the lack of food, water, and disease. Both Barkas and Mosely remembered the lack of food and water. Mrs. Mosley described how sick they became after they were finally given food, as their bodies became accustomed to foods again. Many were just skin and bones at their release including her parents. She said her parents would not let pictures be taken of them due to how much weight they had lost during the three year period.
Santo Tomas University was liberated by the US Army 1st Calvary Division (8th Regiment, 1st Brigade). Mrs. Mosely told of seeing General MacArthur in the streets and the thrill of being picked up by one of the first tanks rolling down the streets during the American liberation of the city. She described being scooped up by an American soldier and placed on the top of the tank as her parents followed behind. The first wave of soldiers was backed by five tanks from the 44th Tank Battalion. The university still educates to this day. A plaque, dedicated in 1954 tells the history of the main building as an internment camp.
The next “Night For The Museum” will be held March 14th, 2011. It will feature Dr. Donnis Taylor and with her presentation about Ada Jack Carver Snell. Snell is considered one of the South’s forgotten literary giants and one of Minden’s sometimes forgotten greats.
Events are held at Christopher’s, 615 Main St. in downtown Minden, La. Doors open at 5:30 with refreshments served at 6:00 p.m., free admission, first-come, first-served seating. Guests are welcome to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert. Drinks are provided. For more information contact Schelley Brown at 318-423-0192. Or visit the web site at www.museuminminden.blogspot.com or join on Facebook.