This Sunday, December the 7th, marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US military installation on Hawaii, Pearl Harbor. It is an unusual day to remember death and destruction yet that is what happened.. Many a young man perished that day and others got a rude baptism of war.
There were two local boys on the Pacific Island that day. Both had joined the Navy to escape the poverty of the depression and the Dust Bowl. Joe grew up southeast of town and Gerry on the family farm south west of town. The depression did not offer many opportunities for jobs after high school and the military was an option.
That fateful morning, most of the men were sleeping off their antics from the night before. Joe was in his bunk on board his ship. Gerry was sleeping in the barracks with the Marines.
Sharply at dawn the bombs were dropping and exploding. Gerry jumped out of his rack and ran outside to see what the racket was about, very irritated for being so rudely awaken. Rushing out the front door, Gerry saw the bombers buzzing overhead dropping bombs. Quickly he rushed back in the barracks grabbed his rifle and headed back out side. He was going to shoot the noise makers down that had so rudely awakened him. His fellow corpsman joined him on the little knoll. Gerry was shooting at the planes, his partner was reloading the rifles as they emptied.
Down below them the clouds of black smoke were billowing up. Ships were exploding and settling into the waters of the harbor. Joe never had a chance to see the planes bombing his ship, the USS Arizona. Along with many other members of the crew they were trapped below deck, unable to get out.
In Joe’s memory the local VFW post is named for him. The USS Arizona lies in state in the harbor as a reminder of how nasty man can be. Yes it is a Memorial to those who perished in the sneak attack. It shows how brutal man can be top his fellow man.
Pearl Harbor carries lots of varied memories for me, for Gerry was my Uncle. He didn’t talk about the attack until his later years. His disdain for the Japanese he wore on his sleeve. Nothing Japanese got close to him, it was a plague.
So it is with wary eye I watch people talk politics and people control. For that is what the attack was for, to show who was in control.