“December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy…”
There are so many ways people have remembered today the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor of 74 years ago. I’ve thought of it repeatedly, wondering how best to participate in honoring that memory.
There were Uncle Gerald and Uncle Linus, my Dad’s brothers who went to war because of it. Uncle Gerald was in the first wave of D-Day years later; Uncle Linus served on a small Pacific island where the Army Air Corps had an emergency landing strip for stricken airplanes.
There was Mom’s father, who tried to enlist but was rejected; an early-popping firecracker had taken the tip of his trigger finger, so the Army had thought he wouldn’t be able to shoot a gun (they should’ve seen his collection by the time he passed away).
There were the veterans whom I interviewed for the 60th anniversary, men who’d been there that day and remembered many lost friends. Men who have gone on to join them.
There was the veteran who met me for lunch today and told me his experience in a later, less supported war. He talked about serving a good cause fought ably, about being surrounded by an overwhelming force that strangely abandoned its imminent attack, and about his disappointment that the nation’s memory largely sees it all differently.
I’ve read dozens of memorial posts on Facebook and searched for one that expressed what was most on my heart. I’ve looked through pictures, trying to select one for this post. The Arizona then, tragic and smoking? The Arizona today, solemn and dignified? The planes attacking? The soldiers, marines, and sailors, injured or running? The newspaper headlines? So much remembering war, pain, suffering, and anger.
A picture, seemingly from that time, of sailors putting leis on memorial markers. Star-spangled banners and fresh white uniforms on a pristine beach; behind them, a blue ocean white with foam and a purple mountain. Simple, solemn, grateful, and yet also colorful, living, and majestic. A moment of peace and healing after chaos and pain.
To all those who have suffered and sacrificed to protect others from evil in any place and time, to all whom they left behind, and to all who are doing it now: thank you.