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by
Rick Moran

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December 7, 2013 - 6:20 am
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By all reports, it was an impossibly beautiful morning in Honolulu when, at 7:48 AM, waves of Japanese fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes appeared over the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor and unleashed a devastating attack.

“Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill,” read the message to all commands. Despite the fact that knowledgeable people knew that war with Japan was inevitable, the attack came as a complete surprise, catching the U.S. fleet with its battleships lined up in a row, making them easy targets for Japanese torpedo planes and bombers.

Eight battleships were put out of commission that day, with two — the Arizona and the Oklahoma – damaged beyond repair. Ten other ships were also heavily damaged. More than 2,400 Americans were killed.

President Roosevelt, fearing a full blown panic if the full-truth of our losses were known, hid the ghastly news from the American people. Eventually, a commission set up to examine the attack released its findings in 1943 and the full story of what occurred that day was revealed.

It’s 72 years later and the living survivors of that attack are rapidly dwindling in number. They can never forget December 7, 1941 — but why do we?

USA Today reports:

Former Louisiana state Sen. Jackson B. Davis, now 95, who was a Navy officer assigned to intelligence duties, says he has not been asked to talk to any groups this year. “That is unusual. I usually do.”

“It’s the same old story,” Davis said, illustrating his point by taking it to an extreme. “We don’t hear much about Gettysburg anymore, or Bunker Hill. Or when the Normans took over England – we don’t hear much about that.”

Davis is one of only three known Pearl Harbor survivors still alive in Shreveport-Bossier City.

“There’s not many of us left to think about it,” Davis said.

In 1991, at least two dozen local Pearl Harbor survivors received commemorative medallions belatedly authorized by Congress for the 50th anniversary of the attack. The delay was largely because of a general feeling that defeats are not celebrated, no matter how great their historic importance.

[...]

So why is this important U.S. military event of the 20th century fading in the popular memory? It could be that 2013 marks an irregular anniversary, 72 years. That doesn’t convey the same urgency as a 50th or 75th anniversary. More likely, observers say, the culprit is time.

“In the 1920s, there were still reunions of Confederate veterans. But in the 1930s, there were very few of them left,” Shreveport historian Gary Joiner said. “In fact, the last reunion was held here. People remember that because these were the guys who experienced it.” When the last of these men died in the 1950s, there was a great resurgence of interest in that conflict, “and then it came too late.”

Joiner sees a parallel with World War II veterans, especially Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans of the oldest and most significant part of U.S. involvement. “With World War II, we’re losing so many veterans every day that we are seeing the same type of thing. It’s almost a natural progression, from current events to memory to history.”

As with the Civil War veterans, the work of preserving and processing the story of the Pearl Harbor veterans will shift to others.

“Now it’s going to be the place of the professional historians and good amateur historians to come in and do for World War II veterans what was done in the late 1950s and since to the Civil War,” Joiner said. The parades may stop, but the assessment will continue.”

We are losing 2,000 World War II veterans every day. But even when the last survivor passes over, the story will not end, nor will the memories of those who served be lost. They will be kept alive by us, their descendants — a labor of love and respect for those who sacrificed in ways that seem to us remarkable.

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Top Rated Comments   
Today I remember my late next door neighbor. On December 7,on Memorial Day, and on Veteran's Day, he would wear his blue Navy ship ball cap: USS ARIZONA BB-39. R.I.P. Mr. Scott.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Young Americans do not really learn history. It is very hard to learn it on Twitter.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (20)
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33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the approximately two years (when the United States was supposedly a neutral nation) leading up to December 7, 1941; FDR was having the U.S. Navy blockade Japanese oil supplies --an act of war. Apparently, FDR wanted to provoke the Japanese and enter the war, sending our guys into this horrible meat-grinder. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in order to cripple the warmaking power of the U.S. Navy and end the blockade. Almost immediately after the attack, FDR then committed a national disgrace by rounding up AMERICANS of Japanese descent (who lost everything) and put them into concentration camps with armed guard towers for the duration of the war. I certainly WILL NOT FORGET December 7, 1941 and the needless loss of life!
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Today's educational elite delete much of America's history prior to the "progressive" re-writing of factual events. Communism is not taught as the oppressive, totalitarian scourge and the murderer of hundreds of millions around the globe. Neo-communists (aka: democrats/progressives) are at war with conservatives/Patriots for America's soul....but we are not at war with them - Much like the mooslim terrorists in the 1990's. Too many of us look upon them as "patriotic Americans who also love their country, as we do, but simply have a different view"....that's our fatal flaw. Progressives want to destroy, er, I mean FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORM our culture. 2014 is our last chance to defeat them peacefully through political elections.

Remember BENGHAZI!
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The public remembrance of the Pearl Harbor attack and the rest of the sad history
of the Pacific War should be allowed to die out with those who lived it;
We should not be forever at war with the ghost of Imperial Japan.

The governmental errors on both sides which led to the war should never be forgotten.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We should not be forever at war with the ghost of Imperial Japan."

Why not? Imperial Japan was evil. We should remember that, and oppose evil wherever it appears.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
To paraphrase better thinkers than I, my response to you is this:
Peoples who do not learn their history, or who , are willing to forget their history, because it makes other people uncomfortable to recall the infamy of their history, are destined to live that history again.

The Imperial Japanese attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor should never be forgotten. Japan never came to terms with what it had done between 1932 and 1945; Hirohito was allowed to walk free of the carnage HE caused in the Pacific rim and his descendants still occupy the Chrysanthimum Throne.

China, having learned all of the lessons Japan could teach in those years, is even now preparing itself to become the thing that Japan failed to be, the master of all Asia.

There is a little village in what was Vichy France, Oradour-sur-Glane , where no-one lives. In 10 June 1944, Waffen SS Nazis of the 2nd SS Pzr Division butchered 642 men, women, and children. The village is preserved exactly as is was on the day of the massacre. The French will never forget what happened at Oradour-sur-Glane. They may, following your argument, one day forget why there are so many American dead buried in cemataries scattered across France, but they will remember the village of Oradour-sur-Glane .

By the way, I have not yet forgotten Hastings, nor the third day at Gettysburg, nor the week of 2 October 1918 near Charlevaux, in the Forest d'Argonne, where few defied many.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wrote a report on State Shinto in Middle School, circa 1960.
I doubt many of today's college students know the term,
or would be allowed by their teachers to speak about it.

There are many villages in Vietnam which still remember the French.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds reasonable...except that Japan is a shame/honor based culture that can't even admit it started the war (in 1937 against the Chinese), so how confident can you be that they will remember the "errors" of the past and not repeat them?

My father and his war buddies put it all of it in the past and moved on for the most part - but that doesn't mean they forgot it. Neither should we.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Japan is a puzzle to me. It appears to have gone all Kawaii, but...

Best Case, the Js kick China's butt militarily and establish economic
hegemony over their natural sphere of influence. Worst case is
Heinlein's 'Sixth Column'; A Chinese-Japanese hybrid culture which
combines all the worst characteristics of both its parents.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
My high school physics teacher was in command of a USN 800 ton seaplane tender on 7 Dec 1941. They were passing through the Panama Canal and he had just stepped off the ship to buy a pack of cigarettes when his radio operator started yelling for him. He ran back to the ship without paying for the smokes and read the message they had just received.

The message said “General Order No. 4” or something of that order. He opened the safe and unsealed the envelope with the General Order in it. It was a hair raising one: “Any captain of any ship receiving this order is directed to assume that the entire United States Navy has been destroyed and to proceed on that basis.”

The message was a bit of an overstatement, but they proceeded to their destination, Pearl Harbor, on the basis it provided. A few days after the attack they got there, guns manned and ready, convinced that they were going to have to fight their way into relieve Pearl.

Now, if the Japanese had known all that, they probably would have been amused to hear their attack caused such Navy-wide panic – but also might well have been sobered by the thought that a mere 800 ton USN ship would have responded that way.

We are not just losing the Pearl Harbor Survivors – although I still see a license plate or two around that proclaims the driver as such – but also the men who were elsewhere but responded to the attack with such bravery.

Another of my high school teachers was a Nav/Bomb on the Doolittle Raid from the USS Hornet. They are both gone now. Perhaps the worst part of the passing of these men is that today’s youngsters will not meet them in the normal course of growing up.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, with the average American's ten minute attention span...

1941? That was like a hundred years ago!
/Ezra Klein mode off
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone interested, follow this Twitter Account. It just started up today, with Peal Harbor. It's Live-tweeting WWII.

https://twitter.com/RealTimeWWII
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Younger people are under the misapprehension that to observe this day means that you bear animosity towards Japan. Young people do not hate Japan. Japan is the Promised Land of youth, like Great Britain was in the 1960's and 70's...........

What you're supposed to commemorate is the bravery, dedication and self-sacrifice of those at Pearl Harbour and of the fighting men of the Pacific Theatre, but that is incoherent and nonsensical given our present mindset. When the world begins at your birth and ends at your death and there is nothing past those limits - ancestors, let alone history does not exist..........
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Japan is the Promised Land of youth, like Great Britain was in the 1960's and 70's........."
In your dreams maybe. The country is in demographic collapse on the order of Iran and it's estimated that in about 30 years more than half the population will be 65+ years old.

The last time they felt that kind of imminent existential threat (at least in their minds) they resorted to war.

What will they do now? I don't have any idea - but extrapolating the last 70 years of peaceful coexistence with Japan into eternity isn't wise. People who forget history, or ignore it, are destined to repeat it.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Today I remember my late next door neighbor. On December 7,on Memorial Day, and on Veteran's Day, he would wear his blue Navy ship ball cap: USS ARIZONA BB-39. R.I.P. Mr. Scott.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
In America, why do we forget? Because it's about race; everything is about race. The Japanese are of a particular race, and if we do not want to be racist - oh, none of us do for fear of the liberal backlash - we cannot look at Pearl Harbor as any other thing than a few errant Zeros mistaking the Islands for a mutant monster such as Godzilla or Mothra. Anyway, it's a thing of the past, and the past is something to forget, to put behind us, and to go blithely along our merry way as if it never happened. After all, some of my best friends are Japanese... or would be if I knew any.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rather good, doomy....... but I have to add in this case it isn't all about race.....

It's about Japan being the source of All Things, Good, Cool and Kawaii. Difficult to impugn a nation and a culture when your entire emotional and social room is wallpapered and furnished to the design created by that same nation and culture. And their best friends are Japanese (if they know any) or pretend to be on Facebook.....'>.........
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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