Thursday, December 7, 2006

REMEMBERING DECEMBER 7, 1941

I will never forget the first time I visited the Arizona Memorial... I cut out of school with my brother and we caught the bus where we were the only locals among the throngs of tourists, mostly Japanese, waiting in line to catch the shuttle boat to the white structure built above the wreckage of the submerged battleship.  Thinking back, I had no warning of the depth of emotions that would come over me.  My brother and I joked around before boarding the free shuttle, run by the Navy... but as we drew closer to the shrine, a solemn quiet took over everyone so that all you could hear was the hum of the boat's engines and the gentle splashing of the waves against the side.

Once we disembarked onto the memorial it was as if we had entered another world.  Nobody said a word.  It wasn't that one was forbidden to speak, it was that nobody had the ability to speak.  The emotions there were so thick I found myself holding my breath.  There was an immense sadness that seemed to envelope the entire area and although the sun was warm that day, my arms were covered with goosebumps.  I saw the oil floating up from the depths of the ocean, tears from a once great battle ship.  I saw the endless rows of names of the killed and missing on the tall wall that reached towards the Heavens, many whose bodies still remained within the steel hull of the ship below me. 

I cried openly, for men I never knew.  I cried openly with strangers who wept with me.  And I vowed that I would always remember the men whom I would never meet.

When December 7th, 1941 is mentioned, most people think Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the battleship Arizona.  In actuality the attack took place over the entire island of Oahu and its many military bases there.  In all 2,335 military and 68 civilians were killed. 1,143 military and 35 civilians were wounded. 

I'm not entirely sure why the Arizona Memorial is so special to me.  Perhaps its because I grew up in Hawaii where decadeslater one can still see the scars of war and human tragedy.  Perhaps its because I grew up as the daughter of Sailor.  Or perhaps its just because I'm an American who cares.  For what ever reason, as in the years past, my thoughts are once again with the men and women who fought so bravely that day, the service members and the civilians, those who survived and those who perished. 

And so, to the men and women who gave their lives, to their families... to those who lived through it and still carry the memories, I say a prayer for you and peace.  I pray also that the heavy cost in human lives be met by the lessons learned and not forgotten.

13 comments:

coelha said...

Oooow...  Your entry gave me goose bumps...  Very well written; thanks for sharing this!  Julie

princesssaurora said...

I, too, join in your prayers... today is a day of solemn rememberance.

I am also the daughter of a sailor...

be well,
Dawn

nhd106 said...

Thanks for the education!  

Nancy

http://journals.aol.com/nhd106/notions-of-nancy/entries/2006/12/07/up-close-and-personal-3/1746

jeadie05 said...

What a wonderfully written tribute Dorn ,I was just about to have my first Christmas ,...love Jan xx

memes121 said...

Know one can do as good a tribute as you just did. God bless you. God bless them all. Tammy

glensfork4 said...

Beautiful rememberance, thank you Jody!
Michele
http://journals.aol.com/glensfork4/these-are-my-thoughts/

deshelestraci said...

Great, moving entry.  I could picture it in my head.
Traci

swmpgrly said...

wow I was just on the verge of tears myself

pharmolo said...

Thanks for that very graphic description.

catatonic23 said...

My mother had nightmares her entire life about that day. You see she was 2 years old when she lived on the island of Oahu, and the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. There were so many nights that she would wake up crying because she was sure that we were in danger. I never understood her nightmares until she sat me down and told me the story. She said she remembered it like it was just yesterday and she was in her forties when she told me. The sirens rang out and, at first her family thought it was just another drill. Her mother was angry as she was in the middle of laundry, but then they saw the planes fly overhead. She was only a few miles away from the harbor. Her father ran into their home and grabbed her and her sisiter, then they all ran down the road. There were so many people running in the street towards the shelter, and when they finally got there, she was so frightened of the men that ushered them in. You see, gas masks are terrifying to a toddler. She said they looked like monsters and all she could hear was people screaming and crying. I homeschool my son and yesterday we studied what happened in Pearl Harbor, and as I told him my mother's tale, he looked so sad and asked me why people had to be so stupid. "Why can't people just get along mom?" I didn't have an answer for him.

Cat

ambassadorsinte said...

Dorn:
Your "Dear Ole Dad" was already at Pearl Harbor's Navy Exchgange doing his Santa Gig when WWII Veterans started pouring into the Navy Exchange after the ceremonies were over.  A pair of brothers from Ohio flew all the way to Pearl Harbor to represent their brother who is too sick to travel.  They had one of those "Fancy" digital cameras that does slide shows and let me see many of the scenes from the ceremonies.  I visited with them during my 30 minute break and they were very proud of their brother.  One Arizona survivor (Al) posed with me and asked for a Hula Girl for Christmas.  Yes Jody, living in Hawaii and frequenting Pearl Harbor sends chills up and down your Dad's spine too, every 7th of December.

Dad

jlocorriere05 said...

A very moving entry. I visited Oahu and Pearl Harbour a couple of years ago, I found it to be a very beautiful but sad place. Going out on the boat to the Arizona Memorial was very humbling experience for me. Jeannette xx  http://beta.journals.aol.co.uk/jlocorriere05/Welcometomytravels/

sdoscher458 said...

I've been to Hawaii but never made it to the memorial, sorry that I didn't. You wrote a very moving memorial for this day in infamy, a day that does need to live in the minds of men for a long, long time.  Because as you know if you do not remember history you are doomed to repeat it....I believe the world has learned a lesson. My two uncles were in the Navy and my Dad was in the Marines during WWII and the stories that they told....tough generation.   Sandi