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It is time to wake up America.

In the midst of the insanity and uncertainty that has been 2022, we must not forget the things that matter from history. December 7th is a day to pause and reflect on those who fought and lost their lives in World War II so that we could voice our objections to the injustice that is going on at the moment.

It marks the day when America realised it could know longer sit on the sidelines and ignore the chaos and destruction that was going on in the world. I wonder if it is time to awaken that fighting spirit again?

The tragedy is, that, in fighting back, there is always a terrible price to pay for freedom. Particularly when the enemy is so much closer to home. 

The attack at Pearl Harbor was a blessing and and curse, depending upon which side of the pond you lived. For the Americans, it marked the beginning of a bloody war that resulted in so very many dead and wounded; so much misery and pain. For the British, Australians, New Zealanders and other allies, it was an injection of much needed support  - both moral and material. 

We, sitting here today in our homes around the world, must take sober reflection about dates of National and International importance: without marking these days and moments from history, we will forget and that would be a travesty.

WE MUST NEVER FORGET.

Just as we down under mark our special ANZAC Day; how we throughout the globe mark the Normandy Landing, the awe of Dunkirk; the horror of 9/11.... every day or event that marks a significant shift in a People's future... is a day or event that should be celebrated, mourned, remembered and marked at every anniversary of it's passing.

In the marking of its occurrence, we remind ourselves how one second, one single brief moment in time can change the course of history.

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Without the attack on the Pearl Harbor American Fleet, would America have entered the war? We will probably never know. But it is well worth acknowledging that December 7th 1941 represented a lifeline to the war against the Japanese in the South Pacific as far as the Allies were concerned.  

 

The attack cost the lives of 2,334 servicemen and servicewomen and wounded another 1,143.

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As a result of this attack, Japan truly did awaken a Sleeping Giant. 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans didn't sit back and cry or moan and say " gosh, that's a shame. " 

“There was nobody on the Sacramento who was out of control, crying for their mother, or crying at all,” Kennedy said, adding that everyone did “what they were trained to do. I was real proud of my ship.”

Paul Ivan Kennedy died on August 21, 2017. He was 96 years old. 

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The Americans got up and fought back with such ferocity of spirit that the foe was utterly vanquished.

There was no mercy.

Because the foe did not deserve mercy. 

 

 

I am reminded of something written last year. I would like to share it with you today. 

 

" My father was a career Air Force officer which meant that, when I was a child, we moved from place to place, depending on the needs of the service. In the early 1970’s, we were fortunate to be stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. My father was assigned to the headquarters of the US Pacific Air Force. The building he worked in bore the bullet holes made when Japanese aircraft strafed it during the attack. These scars of war, together with similar holes in the wooden banister of the interior staircase, were retained as part of an official policy designed to instill the mantra, “Never Again” in everyone who saw them.  

The other constant reminder of Japanese perfidy existed across Pearl Harbor Bay, off Ford Island, where on December 7, 1941, the US Pacific Fleet was moored. There, one could find the rusting hulls of the USS Arizona and USS Utah, left where they sank, a permanent cemetery for the thousands of sailors who lost their lives in the Japanese surprise attack. Over the remains of the USS Arizona a white structure had been built, a memorial to those lost that day.  

One could reach it by ferry. I visited it often, and always found myself staring at the holes in the ship’s structure where the massive turrets containing the Arizona’s mighty 14-inch guns had been mounted. I took solace in the thought that one of these turrets had been recovered and re-mounted on the USS Nevada and was used to bombard Japanese positions during the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa; even as a child, one can learn to hate, especially when gazing upon the graves of so many. 

My grandmother on my father’s side came to visit us while we were in Hawaii. Her husband , Irving, had served in the US Air Corps during the first World War, flying Curtiss ‘Jenny’ fighters (the war ended before he could be sent to the front). Irving and my grandmother had three children: Helen, Shirley, and my father. Helen married a Marine Corps veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima, and Shirley married a US Army weatherman who was crippled in a training accident before he could participate in a covert mission behind enemy lines in Burma to collect climate data used to direct US bombing attacks on the Japanese. My father was too young for World War Two, but he served a tour in Vietnam, and was now in Hawaii.

My grandmother insisted that we visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There was no love lost on her part for the Japanese, something that became apparent as she told us stories about how she listened to the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and, later, President Roosevelt’s address to the nation, where he declared that a state of war existed between the US and Japan. Always the proper lady, my grandmother dressed up for the visit, wearing a modest dress and her hair up, befitting the occasion.

 

 

To get on the ferry to the memorial, you had to purchase tickets. As we stood in line, my grandmother noticed busloads of Japanese tourists arriving at the ferry wharf, tickets in hand, waiting to board the ferry to the memorial. It was 1972, some 31 years since the Japanese attacked the sleeping US fleet, and given the age of many of the tourists, men and women in their fifties and sixties, they had not only been alive when the attack took place but had been active participants in the society that carried it out.

My grandmother was a well-bred lady of a certain stature in society, not prone to making scenes or using foul language, but when she saw the Japanese tourists, she turned to my father, and in as an indignant voice as can be imagined, asked loudly, “Why are there so many goddamned Japs here?”

The Americans in line with us looked at my grandmother with sympathy; they could tell by her age, and where we were standing, that her emotional outburst was coming from a place of authenticity. All eyes were turned to the Japanese, many of whom had heard her words, and were now looking down at the ground in shame and embarrassment. It was not a comfortable moment for anyone present.

My father explained that many of the Japanese had come as an act of atonement, to show respect for the dead. He outlined that times had changed, and that we were now friends with the Japanese, and that we didn’t use words like ‘Japs’ when referring to them. My grandmother listened in silence, seething. But she retained her composure, and we completed the tour without further incident. Afterwards, as we drove home, she wept quietly. “They have no right,” she said, referring to the Japanese. “That place is not meant for them.”

Her pain was real, and there was no amount of time that could pass which would cure the wounds she felt in her heart. She died later that year, and her memories of the war passed with her.

Every December 7, I pause and reflect on the meaning of that day. I re-read President Roosevelt’s address and pay special attention to the notion that it was “a date which will live in infamy.”

Infamy. According to Merriam-Webster, the word means an “evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal.”

My grandmother certainly believed that was the case, and having experienced Pearl Harbor through her eyes, so did I. I could, and have, forgiven the Japanese for what they did that day.

But I will never forget.

Sadly, I can’t say the same thing about my fellow Americans. When was the last time we, as a nation, formally marked Pearl Harbor Day? Yes, every year the US military holds a solemn ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial, attended by local politicians and senior military officers. But does Poughkeepsie, New York pause and reflect? Mobile, Alabama? Bangor, Maine? Kalamazoo, Michigan?

No. As a nation, we have no collective memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the underlying infamy attached to those who perpetrated it. History has no meaning if you don’t ingrain it into your very being. For me, the memory of my grandmother’s indignation at the very site of the infamy in question left an indelible imprint. But unless one has a similar moment of clarity, history is but a collection of stories from a bygone era, merely the experience of strangers, and is thus seldom learned, never cherished, and easily forgotten. source 

 

In many ways, America is under attack yet again. This time - not by bombs dropped from the sky but by traitors and stealth bombs launched from within.

 

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