Today is the 75th anniversary of one of America’s darkest hours, the attack on Pearl Harbor naval base by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The attack killed over 2,400 Americans and wounded nearly 1,200. It destroyed almost the entire American fleet stationed in Hawaii, which led to the United States entry into World War II.
My late father was in the United States Navy and was stationed at Pearl Harbor between 1966 and 1968, which allowed him to be there during the 25th anniversary of the attack. Dad remembered that day to be a Sunday because he had no obligations at base during the early morning hours on December 7. Being a history fanatic and understanding the weight of the day, he decided to walk alone around the base when the attack would have commenced in 1941. Dad didn’t think his fellow mates would show the same level of reverence as he did.
At 7:48 a.m., Dad looked out to the mountains to the north, where the first wave of Japanese planes were detected. He then turned to the south toward Iroquois Point and Mamala Bay where many of the 353 planes approached when the attacks were launched in two waves. Dad couldn’t believe that twenty-five years prior he would have been standing in the middle of absolute hell. It was a sunny morning in 1966, a clear blue sky with the usual amount of activity that he became accustomed to there.
Dad told me he did a lot of standing around that morning, staring into the skies above and the land around him, trying to imagine the nightmare in his own mind. He had three senior officers on base who were at Pearl Harbor on that infamous day when they just started out as seamen in the Navy. They lived that nightmare. Dad didn’t know them and he wasn’t going to search for them in hopes of hearing their own personal accounts of December 7, 1941. It’s certainly a day to remember in America, but maybe those officers would have liked to forget that day.
Today we remember those Americans we lost 75 years ago. I give thanks for the active military members we have today and the countless veterans that served over the years. Their dedication to the United States, duty as a service member and their dedication to serving their communities post-military (Police, Fire, National Guard, etc.) is greatly appreciated by me and my family.