In the last few years, Pearl Harbor Day has taken on increased significance to me personally, not just because my father and many of my uncles served in the armed forces during World War II, but also because most of the veterans of that war that I grew up knowing have passed from the scene. It was an extraordinary time: rendered more so by the fact that Pearl Harbor and the events that followed are as historically removed from the experiences of the present generation as the trauma of the Civil War was from those of my father's generation. That being said, I now view this day as a perfect excuse to invite my father and those of his surviving friends who lived through the often uncertain years of World War II to reminisce about their friends and experiences. Some of their stories I have heard over and over again, but some are surprisingly fresh and unexpected; this is why it strikes me as particularly poignant that before too much longer virtually all of these recollections — some funny, some touching, and some sad — will, like those who currently share them, be gone forever.
A Long Time Ago, on a Sunny Morning in Hawaii ...
|Mrs. Beard lays a wreath on Pearl Harbor Day |
at the anchor of the USS Arizona
As a direct result of these two Japanese attacks, eighteen U.S. ships including seven battleships were either sunk or so badly damaged that they would be out of action for months. In addition, of the nearly 400 military aircraft on the island, 188 were destroyed, and 159 were damaged. Total American casualties were 3,581, of which 2,403 were killed. The pillars of black smoke billowing up from the burning ships and airfields at Pearl Harbor after the Japanese air strikes bore witness to the stark fact that, although no formal declaration had yet been made by either nation, the United States and the Empire of Japan were now at war.
Remembering the "Day of Infamy" Seventy Years After
|Pearl Harbor damaged battleships |
Arizona Tennessee and West Virginia
|USS Arizona Pearl Harbor |
Valor in the Pacific National Memorial
|U.S. Marines landing on Guadacanal|
|Pearl Harbor veterans share experiences at|
Wesley Bolin Plaza remembrance, Phoenix Arizona 2009