Monday, December 7, 2009

A solemn anniversary...

Today is the 68th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor - Dec. 7, 1941. In itself that is certainly not good news. And none of my articles for today are strictly good news. But I think it's important to remember the day and all the good that came from it. Hundreds of thousands of men and women banded together to fight an evil threatening the world. And they did it.

Kinda gives you hope, no?

I found the excerpted part of this on the Boston Globe website, but MSNBC had the full story on Ed Johann, an 86 year-old Pearl Harbor survivor who is returning to the base for the first time since the attacks. Johann enlisted as a teenager to ease the burden on his family and found himself in the middle of the firefight when the Japanese attacked. The sailor ferried injured men from the burning and sinking ships without regard to his own safety. Later he returned for the dead. After the war, he returned to the mainland and became a firefighter because he "wanted to help people."

I imagine few of the men Ed Johann steered to safety came from the USS Arizona. Two direct hits by the Japanese sank the ship and entombed 1100 men. Those men may be gone, but they are not forgotten. The US government allocated $58 million to build a memorial to them and all the rest of the heroes that day. USAToday posted a story today on the vivid memories World War II veterans still carry from that Hawaiian morning. The story also details what the new memorial will look like.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution had a story on a local Marine's memory of Pearl Harbor. Mack Abbott was supposed to learn how to fly that morning, but instead, he spent it shooting at the enemies' planes. Some flew so low over the base, Abbott could see directly into the cockpits. The AJC's story goes on to tell about Abbott's post-war life and family.

A lot of "The Greatest Generation" have refused to talk about their efforts in the war, preferring to forget the horrors or were uncomfortable "promoting" themselves. Unfortunately that has led to members of several generations not having a connection to an important piece of history. I'm one of them. My grandfather fought in the South Pacific, but I know next to nothing about it because he never spoke of it. Even when directly questioned, he gave as little information as possible and changed the subject. That's why I feel it is important to put these stories on my blog; you don't ever want to forget.

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