Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A day to remember...

It took the President less than six minutes to read his speech on December 8, 1941. The opening phrase, "Yesterday, December 7,1941 - a date which will live in infamy -- The United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." would later be regarded as the most famous phrase ever uttered by an American President.

Several years ago on our first trip to Oahu’ Hawaii, it was more important to me to visit Pearl Harbor than just about anywhere else. I really wanted to go there, to see it, imagine how it looked and felt. Im not sure why I felt so strongly about it. While we were there they were filming the movie with Ben Affleck and Cuba Gooding Jr.
I’ve never been anywhere that touched me so deeply as the memorial of the U.S.S. Arizona. You are told from the beginning that this is a shrine but as soon as you step foot on the memorial it hits you like a ton of bricks, truely.
Just a few things to imagine…there were over 183 Japanese aircraft in the first wave of bombing. An hour later, another 170 aircraft were launched. Can you imagine that many aircraft at in the air at once, then having the second wave hit? Unreal.

This is the final resting place for 1,102 crewmen of the Arizona. Only 75 bodies were recovered, the remainder are entombed with the ship still. As you stand there, looking over the side of the memorial, small bubbles of oil still rise to the surface. There were over 2,300 people killed this day, over 1,000 injured.

The third section of the memorial is the shrine room. The room contains the names of all those killed on the Arizona and their names are engraved on a marble wall.
Nothing strikes you like reading these names. Brothers, fathers, entire families. You can see a list of names here.

It was believed that US ships between San Francisco and Oahu’ were also torpedoed. My Great Uncle Herb was on one of those ships. My Dad has told me stories of how they didn’t know if Uncle Herbs ship was hit or not. Apparently they high tailed it back to the states as soon as they heard of the bombing but it was weeks and weeks before my Dads family knew if Herb was safe or not. They were not allowed to contact their families like they do now. Dad said they had to sneak messages into the military base to find out if Herb was safe. My Dad remembers sitting in the car, in the dark outside the military fence waiting for the guard to pass. Then they flashed the headlights and my Uncle came out of hiding. They were only able to speak to him for a few minutes, then he had to go agian. They didn't see him again for many years. I cant imagine the worry of these families. What a horrible time.
So, remember them today. They were all heroes. The soldiers and their families.


Chiara said...

Thak you for your beautiful post. I ca imagine felt at the memorial.

Sophia said...

I do love your patriotism, Susan. Thank you for this reminder of this significant day in our history. My hubbie and I just spent a few hours Sunday night reading about 9-11 and thinking how fresh it still is, then comparing it to Pearl Harbor. I'd love to have my own grandfather's feelings and impressions from that day. What a beautiful tribute. Thanks again.


Maria said...

Amazing post. Thank you for sharing.