"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Message from Pearl Harbor - Part One

Yesterday, December 7, 2010, was the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that propelled America into World War II.

I think that’s worth mentioning. I am reading a book by David A. Witts about World War II in the Pacific theatre; so perhaps it has been on my mind a little more than it otherwise would be. It is only coincidence that I chose to read this book at this time. I woke, yesterday, wondering if there would be any news coverage about that sad day. I was pleased to see Pearl Harbor was the lead story in our local paper. I know there were a few ceremonies around town to honor those that lost their lives there. There was at least one of my friends who posted on Facebook about remembering and honoring those lives. I intended to put a post on my blog about Pearl Harbor, yesterday; but I just didn’t get that far. Once again, I took inspiration from this friend to blog about something that I knew I should, but that I had simply neglected to get done… better late than never, as the saying goes.

If we forget our history, we will repeat our history. The book I am reading, Forgotten War, Forgiven Guilt is about how the war in the Pacific Theatre was often overlooked. The author goes into great detail about events and atrocities that took place, and how it is almost impossible to find any information about the Army Air Corps, 13th Air Force. My dad was a member of the 13th Air Force, so this is somewhat personal for me and I am totally captivated by this book. I highly recommend it. I will most likely do a “book report” on Witts' story a bit later. But for today, I really just wanted to pay tribute to a generation that fought and died for what they believed. To quote the author David Witts in Forgotten War, Forgiven Guilt:
"We entered Europe’s War at times and places of our choosing. The Pacific war came to us. The December 7, 1941 headline read: “Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor.” At that moment America changed forever. Outraged, we left plows standing in the field in a rush to enlist. We lusted for revenge against an enemy that stabbed us in the back. Volunteers stood in lines to join up. Women worked in factories. Mothers planted victory gardens. Children collected tin cans. Armies first clashed in hand to hand combat 5,000 miles away on a peninsula in the Philippines called Bataan and a rock named Corregidor."
A war for America began and ended in the Pacific. When it was over, a nation rejoiced. Victory was complete. Of course there would be sadness as well when lives were lost.  My own dad, said when he was on the island of Samar and heard the news, there was no great celebration by the servicemen as one might expect, or that we see in the movies...it was simply over; they had done their job; and they wanted to go home. For our nation, a time of prosperity was ushered in. It would be Baby Boomers, Bobby Socks, and Butcher Shops....blissful living and belated appreciation.
"When the War ended, we came home, went back to school and work. We were so busy trying to make up for those four lost years, we had no inclination to talk about our experiences. Our conduct was not original. It was traditional. It was a deeply shared national experience. There was no sneaking off to Oxford. Roosevelt’s four sons served in uniform. We dropped into the Memory Hole, still married to our first wives. But now, half a century later, there is a fascination about that War, its people, their agony and their ecstasy. Today’s interest in the War comes as a surprise to those who fought it. It’s good to know some people do care, realizing who paid the butcher’s bill for the prosperity they blissfully enjoy. Now that others want to hear our stories, they come as wistful goodbyes."

For myself, I'm not sure all the current "fascination" is good. Only because I am not sure there isn't an underlying political motivation behind it.  The "fascination" is only good if those interested get an accurate accounting. And as Mr. Witts says in his book, there has been much that has not been very accurate. But that is all for another post; today I want to say thank you.

To that generation, especially those that fought and those that died; I pay tribute. Thanks for the steak, burgers and prime rib, Daddy. I promise to learn the lessons you've taught, and keep our history pure.

“There are things worse than war, and they all begin with defeat.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

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