Today is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, in what is now the state of Hawaii. We, perhaps, are a world power today (in part) because of that attack.
Every day, more members of the Greatest Generation, the generation of my late parents, pass away.
On December 7, 2014 I wrote the blog post below. Since 2014, more survivors of the USS Arizona, and of Pearl Harbor, have passed away.
The USS Arizona is perhaps the most well known of all the ships and planes destroyed that day. There were 334 survivors of the sinking of the USS Arizona. In 2014, when I wrote this post, there were nine survivors. Now there are five.
As survivors die, some ask to be buried with the sunken ships they served on.
With all the uncertainty in our world today, it is well for us to remember those who have come before us. This year, some 100 survivors of Pearl Harbor were able to travel there to participate in ceremonies. In all probability. the 75th anniversary will be the last major anniversary of this event where this will be possible.
Time passes. Memories fade. When the memory keepers die, then what?
Here's my post from 2014.
This December 7, there are nine of them left. Four of them will be in Oahu today for the last official gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association.
Our local newspaper had pictures of each and a brief description of his memory of December 7, 1941.
The faces are lined with age. They are in their 90's, for the most part. In not too many more years, the last one will be gone. Even their website is in danger of shutting down.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, in what would later become the state of Hawaii, causing the United States to enter World War II.
Perhaps the most famous ship to have been lost, the USS Arizona lies just a few feet beneath the water, and it is now a national monument - a must see for anyone visiting Hawaii.
These nine men are the last nine survivors of the Arizona.
Without remembering our history, we would be lost.
So I was curious to find this little historical tidbit while reading about Pearl Harbor today: Husband E. Kimmel was the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on the day of the attack. He was wounded during the attack by a stray billet. Then, shortly after the attack, he was relieved of his command, and, to this day, there is a debate regarding whether he should have been relieved of command.
Kimmel's father was a veteran of the Confederate military. But, on December 7, 1941, that did not matter.
It was also true that the bloodiest day in U.S. Naval history prior to Pearl Harbor was during the Civil War.
Why is it important to remember Pearl Harbor? Many reasons - this article lists only a few (in one particular point of view. His opinions may or may not reflect mine.)
In my opinion, it is just as important to remember our Civil War, even though it was fought 150 years ago. When I was born in 1952, only a handful of Civil War veterans were left alive, but it made an impact on me nevertheless. We are at about the same point with the veterans of World War II.
Without these two wars, our country would be a different place to live. Our very lives would be different.
They are part of why we are the way we are, for good and for bad.
No matter what country you live in, dear reader, please take a moment and reflect on your personal history. And hope that, one day, our world can finally achieve peace.