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MEDIA CONTACT: Christine Dardet

FAU Faculty Examine the Lifelong Journey of Pearl Harbor Survivors

Team Developing Peace Performance to Share Survivors’ Wisdom

BOCA RATON, FL (December 6, 2011) – Patricia Liehr, Ph.D., R.N. and LisaMarie Wands, Ph.D., R.N. both faculty in Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, recently concluded a seven-year study examining stories of health shared by 23 people who survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago. The study also sought to identify the turning points that moved participants along over their lifetime.

Liehr and Wands teamed with researchers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, who interviewed 28 survivors of the Hiroshima counter-attack by the U.S. that occurred four years after Pearl Harbor. The members of the research team came from countries that exerted aggression on each other within the expanse of five years during World War II. Findings from their research can be found in a recent issue of the scholarly journal, Advances in Nursing Science.

“Wartime trauma exerts a toll that challenges the human spirit for both aggressors and sufferers of aggression,” said Liehr.  “We found that a central turning point for Pearl Harbor survivors was ‘honoring the memory and setting it aside.’”

Common themes revealed the surprise of being attacked; approaches used to persevere in the immediate aftermath and throughout more than six decades; and hopes and dreams for peace, both personal and global.  Survivors expressed a concern that their stories touch younger generations to discourage aggression and to promote peace.  Regardless of experience or nationality, participants moved through wartime trauma by connecting with others, pursuing personal and global peace.

“Sharing stories is especially important now to people who lived through the wartime trauma of Pearl Harbor, as they are elders whose numbers are quickly dwindling as they advance into the eighth, ninth and tenth decades of living,” said Wands.  “Wisdom of survivors can inform future generations.”

As a result of their findings, the team’s long-range goal has become dissemination of the wisdom of these elders in a Peace Performance.

Liehr and Wands have been working with Katy Morris, a doctoral student in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, to develop a documentary/verbatim play for her dissertation.  The play is being written as a dramatic expression of the story of health since surviving the bombings of World War II.  The play is intended for middle and high school youth and it will contain lessons related to history, social science and health.  It will debut in fall 2012 in Florida and spring 2013 in Japan.

Andrew Binder, a multimedia instructor in the College of Education at FAU, is developing a multimedia presentation that presents the research of the group in an accessible and educational way.  He also is creating an iPad program and has completed War and Health, a pop-up artist’s book to capture the essence of the project. 

“Our hope is that the performance, the iPad program and the artist’s book allow us to touch audiences that may not access health-related research,” said Liehr.  “By using a range of dissemination approaches, we expect to provide health promotion and guidance for people living with aggression today.”

For more information, contact Patricia Liehr at 561-297-2048 or


About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing is committed to nurturing the wholeness of persons and environment through Caring.

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

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