Pearl Harbor Day


pearl-harbor

“…December 7, 1941.  A date which will live in infamy…the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Naval and Air Forces of the Empire of Japan.”

~President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the United States CapitolWashington, D.C., on December 8, 1941, in response to the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day; commemoration of an event which marked a watershed moment in the history of the United States.  I won’t belabor the details of the attack in this post – learned historians have done that much more eloquently and details are readily accessible all over the web.  Besides…I would hope that educators in schools the world over have done their jobs and made you, my dear readers, aware of it’s importance.

Instead I’ll step out of my usual snarky persona for today and tell you a story.

———————————–

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago – way back in 1988…a young woman was wed.  Twenty-one and feisty, she was certain she knew exactly what she wanted in life.  After a whirlwind six months’ courtship, she got it – a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Naval Officer, who was being transferred from her hometown in Virginia to a Nuclear Fast-Attack Submarine homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Naturally, he just HAD to take her with him; hence the rush on the wedding.  (Because y’know…there’s a paucity of patience when you’re twenty-one.)

Ri AZ Mem

Now, this story is NOT about the woman and the Naval Officer.  (But I’ll give you the Cliff Notes, because I hate to leave you hanging, and I know you’re nosy.  After twelve years of marriage and five more duty stations, they divorced.  The woman then met the ACTUAL man of her dreams, they married, have a wonderfully precocious three year old son and are insanely happy.  Oh…and she blogs about Music…;) )

No, this story is about the woman’s love affair with that first Duty Station, and what she learned in the two years she lived there.

Fast-Attack submarines are gone ALOT.  This left the woman alone alot.  Luckily, the woman had grown up a Navy Brat, so she had very little trouble assimilating to her new life – she knew the basics.   So all that alone time was spent immersing herself in the local culture and history.

  • She drove ALL OVER the island of Oahu.
  • She stopped in little out of the way shops and chatted with local store owners.
  • She got a temporary job at the Hawaiian Sugar Planter’s Association and was “adopted” by some of the workers there as an honorary kama’aina {noun-intransitive verb} Native-born, one born in a place, host; acquainted, familiar. [Commonly referred to a long-time resident of Hawai’i, as distinguished from a visitor.)
  • She learned passable Pidgin.
  • She developed a love of Ahi Sashimi and Maunapua, and still maintains that New Kapahulu Chop Suey has the world’s best Chinese Food.

And she learned about that day in 1941 in a whole new way that books in a classroom could never have taught her.

USS_Arizona_Memorial

  • She frequently had lunch at the Yacht Club on Ford Island, who’s water view is anchored by the Arizona Memorial.
  • Many Happy Hours were spent at the Pearl Harbor Officer’s Club, parts of which dated from pre-WWII.
  • She sat at Hospital Point and watched the ships and submarines traverse the mouth of the harbor, and imagined.
  • She attended Wives’ Club meetings and parties at Senior Officers’ homes, whose graceful eight foot ocean view windows brought island breezes wafting through vintage sheers, evoking the presence of other Military families who’d lived there decades earlier.
  • She spoke with older Hawaiians about their experiences as children – those of American, Japanese and Hawaiian descent.  The fear when the attack of December 7th was discussed was still palpable, even though at the time almost fifty years had passed.

At an antique store in Kailua, she bought a 48 star flag that was said to have been flying over a library in that town during the Pearl Harbor Attack.  At the Arizona Memorial, she saw the rusting hull through the clear Hawaiian waters.  She read the names of young sailors forever entombed there.  She saw elderly men and women of many nationalities wiping tears from eyes filled with painful memories.

052-arizona-memorial

For a young Navy Wife whose husband was  frequently in harm’s way, it was sobering.  An attack on AMERICA?  It was unthinkable.  It was terrifying.

———————————

So, why do I tell you all this?  Because today my thoughts are melding decades, memories are blending with news stories and lines are blurring under the weight of a sadness coupled with a sense of profound indebtedness.

Pearl Harbor.  9-11.  They are the same.  They were attacks.

But they are different.  Very different.  Not in the sense that those attacks killed people and left victims irreparably scarred – that is the same. Not different in that families are separated by deployment, plans are put on hold and lives in constant danger in defense of our freedom – that is the same.  Yes, the technical, logistical, rhetorical and political differences are myriad, but  in the end…the toll of war on the human heart is pain. Period.

Throughout World War II, much of the entertainment business was war-centric.  Addressing those fighting, those at home waiting, those civilians helping in any way they could – it was a salve to the wounds of a world gone crazy.  Since the entire country was polarized against The Common Enemies, there was no worry of “political correctness” – it was galvanizing,  it was patriotic and it helped.

Today while I listen to this playlist of “War Music” from 1941, I think about soldiers like my husband’s Grandfather, who lost his leg while serving in the US Army during WWII.  I also think of soldiers serving now who have experienced – or may still experience –  the same fate while serving in the Middle East. I think back to my days as a Navy wife, and the fear that would creep in when I allowed myself to dwell on “what if”?  I think about my life now, and how grateful I am to have my husband and son home with me and safe.

I am thankful…and I am prayerful.

And I wish to hell we had some NEW music like the songs in this playlist.  I bet it would help now, too…


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23 Responses to Pearl Harbor Day
  1. Ri O'Laughlin
    December 7, 2009 | 12:27 pm

    New Post & Playlist: Pearl Harbor Day. Complete with 40's Music, me at 21 with Big Hair and a heartfelt thank you. http://bit.ly/5XLXI2

  2. Ri O'Laughlin
    December 7, 2009 | 2:27 pm

    New Post & Playlist: Pearl Harbor Day. Complete with 40's Music, me at 21 with Big Hair and a heartfelt thank you. http://bit.ly/5XLXI2

  3. Mari
    December 7, 2009 | 2:55 pm

    Sniffle.
    As a current Air Force wife whose husband has an upcoming Iraqi deployment, you nailed it.
    We’ve got modern punk rock that address the disillusionment of war, but there’s nothing that romanticizes it like they did in the 40s.
    .-= Mari´s last blog ..Intentions =-.

  4. Devilish Southern Belle
    December 7, 2009 | 6:20 pm

    Loved this post, and playlist! Both of my Grandfathers fought, one in WWII and the other in Korea. I was married to a soldier during the first Persian Gulf War. My heart always goes out to the military and their families. I can’t imagine what it would have been like during the Pearl Harbor attack.

    And for the playlist? Loved it, and Billie Holiday is always WIN.
    .-= Devilish Southern Belle´s last blog ..With the year coming to a close =-.

  5. Rich Bohican
    December 7, 2009 | 9:25 pm

    Pearl Harbor Day | Music Savvy Mom http://tinyurl.com/yeoqdf5

  6. HistoryTeacher
    December 7, 2009 | 9:28 pm

    Ri, this is perfect. I’m an American History teacher, the daughter of a WWII vet and a past visitor to Pearl Harbor. And a citizen, watching and praying from the comfort of my safe, warm house.

    I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I, and not my Mom, was the one at home listening to Glenn Miller. I know I’m not as tough as she is/was.

    Thanks.

  7. Rich Bohican
    December 8, 2009 | 4:25 am

    Pearl Harbor Day | Music Savvy Mom http://tinyurl.com/yeoqdf5

  8. Dawn
    December 10, 2009 | 9:44 am

    Excellent post, Maria.

  9. sms marketing
    January 20, 2010 | 2:01 pm

    No one in my family has ever fought in a war-well I think my grandpas did, but he never came around and I never knew him. Despite the fact that I don’t have any family who have fought, I want to say how greatful I am for those who fight. What a great post remembering those of Pearl Harbor. I realize the conflicts of war and lots of music that speaks ill of those who fight for what they belive is a flase cause, but i am so glad we have people willing to fight for their right to think just that.

  10. personal relationship
    March 22, 2010 | 8:45 pm

    Excellent post, I don’t think so many educators in schools all over the world have done their jobs and speak of it’s importance.

  11. Dog Trainers Charlotte
    March 25, 2010 | 8:46 am

    Pearl Harbor is a history that will never be forgotten. I really don’t know the whole story but it so sad that this was happen and that many people died.

  12. duck
    December 9, 2010 | 2:29 pm

    this helps me alot

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