Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Day to Remember

By Mark W. Danielson

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day. A day that lives in infamy. The day that launched us into World War II. Ask anyone old enough to remember and they will tell you exactly where they were the day thousands died and others were severely burned and injured. Heroes kept on fighting. The survivors kept living.

For those of us too young to know, it’s hard to imagine the fright they experienced on that peaceful Sunday morning as waves clapped at sandy beaches, palms swayed under a sapphire sky, residents prepared for church, and soldiers and airmen sat idle. And then the sky buzzed with hundreds of bombers. Reality didn’t sink in until after the first bombs fell. Within seconds, Satan’s hand had blocked the sun and the sky was on fire. People ran for cover. Then more bombs fell and chaos ensued. The unprovoked attack is the reason we still remember Pearl Harbor today. Lest we forget.

Our toll in the Pacific was greater than the ocean itself. This war was won by sheer determination, one island a time. Luck was on our side at Midway. Even more so when master planner Yamamoto’s Betty bomber was intercepted and shot down by P-38 fighters in the Solomon Islands.

Countless books have been written on the war in the Pacific, but none better than James Bradley’s Flags of our Fathers and Flyboys. Both of these books take the reader into the Pacific theater from the vantage of a few brave men. The fact that George H. Bush is in Flyboys is more coincidence than intentional, for it was his airmen, captured on Chi Chi Jima, that form the basis of this story. Photos of these men give the book heart. Living their horror gives their story meaning.

If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to reflect on those who served during World War II, particularly those who gave their lives at Pearl. Thank these veterans for their service, and never forget that their sacrifices are what allow us to post messages like this one.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Mark, I just finished watching a two-hour special on the Discovery Channel about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was horrible. I've visited the Arizona memorial twice and had the eeriest feeling, knowing that more than 1,100 young sailors were buried in a watery grave beneath my feet. Some sources say that FDR had advanced warning and allowed the attack to happen so that Congress would vote to enter the war against Japan. I hope that isn't true.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Jean, I do believe there was advanced warning, but it was bungling, not politics, that allowed the attack to succeed. The carriers -- the real target of the Pearl Harbor attack -- were saved because of one Admiral's foresight and determination.

Incredibly, more people died in the 9-11 attacks than at Pearl, yet this attack is all but forgotten to most Americans.

Helen Ginger said...

I think it's important to remember this day. It happened before my lifetime, yet it still strikes the heart each year when it's remembered.

carl brookins said...

As is true with most major events, the record is largely unclear, leaving holes in our knowledge and room for new historians to propose alternate theories. Just read the obscure language in some of the stolen cables Wikileaks released. There is no question a lot of people including the President knew an attack was likely. But nobody, including the Japanese government new precisely when it would happen. Once the ships sailed the timing was in the hands of the Japanese admiral of the fleet.

I remember exactly where I was and what we were doing when word arrived that Sunday morning.

Mark W. Danielson said...

I suspect that all of us remember exactly where we were during each tragic event we have lived through. So, why is it we can never remember where we put our glasses or keys?

Chester Campbell said...

I took a little different approach to the aftermath of Pearl Harbor in my Mystery Mania blog. It set the course for my life as a writer. You'll find it here.

Mark W. Danielson said...

My father wrote me today that he asked everyone in their apartment complex at dinner if they remembered where they were on December 7th, 1941. Every single one of them did. Jean, Helen, Carl, Chester, all of you have excellent points. It is always interesting how history is re-written to suit the times. I hope we can all document the versions from those those who remember so this can be passed down to future generations.