Archive for December 7th, 2009

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7 – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day for folks here in the US – may have more meaning for me than for other people.  For one thing, I now live in Hawai’i and nowhere are the events of December 7 1941 more remembered than at Pearl Harbor itself.  The attack on that day targeted not only the harbor with the US Navy ships, but also Hickham, Wheeler, and Bellows Army air fields, Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, and Kaneohe Naval Air Station.  It is now 2009 and there are still people living on Oahu who remember the attacks from 1941.  There are also still a very few veterans of World War II in the area.  Fewer and fewer every year, but some are still around.

Another reason I always remember this day on my calendar is because it is/was also my parents’ wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary!

And finally, speaking of those World War II vets, my father was one.  He would have been 83 years old this year.  He was a Navy man and, although he rarely talked about it, he was fiercely proud of his service during the war.  He was one of those young guys going along with his life when the US entered the war.  He and his brothers signed up and shipped off to various parts of the earth.  Dad in particular went to many places as he ended up on a supply ship and circumnavigated the world at least twice.  He left the service after WWII, and he really never accepted the term “Greatest Generation.”  Dad always felt that every generation rises up to the challenges that it faces.

My Big Sis and I visited Pearl Harbor a couple of years ago when she was here visiting.  We went out to the USS Arizona memorial.  Later, Sweetie and I also visited the USS Missouri.  It was a moving and educational experience.   I thought I would be overcome with emotion when I got out to the USS Arizona memorial, thinking about my father and the Navy men and service-people and American civilians who died on December 7, 1941.   I’m not generally a loud flag-waving rah-rah type.    But I felt more awe than sadness while gazing out at the water in the Harbor.  I could write something cliche about those who are doomed to repeat the past if they don’t remember it.  But I think many people do remember past wars.  We remember why they came about.  We remember how they were fought and the cost of fighting them.  And then tomorrow dawns with a whole new set of world events and circumstances and there is never a guarantee that we won’t fight again.  I haven’t figured out how to prevent that from happening yet but I’ll let you know if I do someday. 


Some a previous blog of mine – facts from Pearl Harbor:

  • The USS Arizona tour is free.  You arrive, get a card for admission to the excellent 20+ minute movie, and board a boat that takes you out to the USS Arizona memorial in the harbor. 
  • The loss of life on the USS Arizona on Sunday, December 7, 1941 was 1,177 lives.  Overall, more than 2,000 lives were lost at Pearl Harbor that morning. 
  • After being struck by airborne torpedoes, which ended up hitting the ammunition magazine section of the battleship, the USS Arizona battleship sunk in less than nine minutes.
  • 66 years after the explosion that destroyed Arizona, oil leaks from the hull still rise to the surface of the water. The USS Arizona continues to leak about a quart of oil per day into the harbor.  Survivors from the crew say that the oil will continue to leak until the last survivor dies.
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor sunk, beached (the USS Nevada captain ran his ship aground so it would not block the harbor entrance as it sank), or damaged 21 ships in the harbor.
  • Of the 21 ships, including eight battleships, that were damaged during the attack, all but three were returned salvaged, returned to service and later saw action.  The restored ships included the USS California, USS Maryland, and the USS Pennsylvania.  The USS Utah, Arizona, and Oklahoma were total losses. 
  •  The damaged USS Tennessee was restored within two weeks.
  • The USS West Virginia was raised, repaired and returned to duty in 1944.  She later won five battle stars and was present in Tokyo Bay in 1945 to witness the Japanese surrender.
  • According to the “Casualties of World War II” chart on board the USS Missouri, there were 19 million military deaths and 50 million civilian deaths during WW II.  The civilian deaths included 15,000,000 in China and 20,000,00 in the Soviet Union and 5,600,000 in Poland.  Staggering losses of civilian life.

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