Today is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a day that true to FDR’s words, still lives in infamy. It’s a day that changed the world forever, igniting the forces of good to battle and defeat those with a darker world view.
I talked a bit about my visit to Pearl Harbor in my Veteran’s Day post; it was a profoundly moving experience for me, as I think it must be for many who visit. As I walked the grounds, I overheard several conversations that echoed my own feelings. One young man felt the need to call a friend to share the experience as it unfolded and I heard the tears in his voice. I don’t know how anyone can stand on the Arizona Memorial, hear the details of that day, know there are so many still resting beneath you in their watery grave, and not be moved.
Still, there are others, I’m sure, who look at it as just another tourist spot, something historic that they should see while on vacation. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect to be as changed by my visit as I was. It was very important to my husband as a Navy veteran to visit Pearl Harbor, and I was happy that we were able to make that happen. It was a long, exhausting day trip from our Maui paradise, but I didn’t mind. I knew I would enjoy the day—though enjoy is hardly the right word. But as I said, Pearl Harbor had a much more profound effect on me than I ever would have dreamed.
CBS Sunday Morning did its expected piece about the 75th anniversary last Sunday; once again I felt myself there and was moved to tears. What saddened me even more was hearing the park ranger say that so many young people who visit don’t know what happened there, possibly even worse, they don’t even know who won the war. If this is true, and I have no doubt that it is, who will remember those brave souls who made the greatest sacrifice once the last survivors (now all well into their 90s) and their children are gone? How will we ever stop such dread history from repeating itself if we do not remember?
It seems like heresy to say I’m sick of hearing “Remember our veterans!” but I am. It’s become just a bunch of words that people toss out, then feel like they’ve done their part. True remembrance takes active participation, not just a passing thought, and it’s not wearing a flag on your lapel or sticking a flag magnet on your car. We need to teach our children that remembering is more than words. They need to know the true stories of what happened to “The Greatest Generation” in such a way that they will truly never forget. It needs to be personal and we need to start now. I ask you to take a few moments to watch the videos below, let yourself be moved, then share them so we do not forget.
So today I remember Pearl Harbor. I look at the pictures, remember their stories, and pass these words on to you. Those sleeping under the USS Arizona live in my heart and will not be forgotten.