Today, December 7th is the 68th anniversary of 'The Day of Infamy" the attack and resulting tradedy of over 2400 deaths when Pearl Harbor was attacked in the early morning by Japan. Much has been written about the events of that day and the many acts of heroism to defend the base and save the wounded. I had an opportunity to visit Oahu and Pearl Harbor in 2008 and was moved by what I saw and experienced. Before the visit I had always thought of the Arizona Memorial as a nondescript modernistic structure with no visible link to the battle.
You have to visit the site to experience the reverance and awe of a monument to the massive loss of life and to fully understand that you are visiting a grave site. The structure spans the Battleship Arizona that was sunk while it sat moored in the harbor. The ship was torpedoed and her magazine exploded, sinking in 9 minutes with the loss of 1177 sailors.
That alone is enough to make you pause and think of all those lost, their loved ones, and the pain and suffering of that day. Names on a plaque. No these are lives ended too soon. The first emotional impact I received that day was when I was asked one of the Park Service personal why off to the left of the 1177 names there was a seperate smaller panel of names. "Those are the sailors who survived the attack and who have rejoined thier shipmates by being buried on the Arizona." He went on to tell me that week a surviving twin had been interred by a Navy dive team so that he could join his brother and his shipmates in death. I can't begin to imagine the impact that day, Dec 7th had on that man's life, so much so that he never forgot, he lived with the loss of his twin for 66 years and his last wish was to rejoin his brothers. He wasn't alone.. there were scores of names on that plaque.
The 2nd emotional shock I received was upon leaving the memorial room and proceeding to the middle of the monument which spans the ship's bridge. Below the surface you can actually see the deck through the clear waters of Pearl Harbor.
Morever, you can see the remains of the huge gun turrets sticking out of the water, you begin to get a feel for the shape and scope of the ship that lies just a few feet below the water. And then I looked down into the ship itself. A ladder inside the ship's mast that led down directly to the bridge area of the Arizona. And then it struck me. The Memorial Building is a bridge, over the Arizona's bridge. Bowing in the middle just as the Arizona was bowed when her keel was broken by the blast. I was looking down a ladder into the past.
A ladder to the final resting place of so many sailors. Yet the ship still lives. There is a constant oil sheen and air bubbles on the surface a reminder that the Arizona will not succumb or be forgotten.
So today, 68 years later let us rededicate ourselves not to forget those who have sacrificed to defend our freedom. And let us remember those dedicated servicemen and women today who honor us with their sacrifice and service to our country. There are so many who are alone in some outpost of the world wondering when and if they will return, and wondering if we remember them.
Today December 7th is also the LAST DAY to send a holiday card to a serviceman or woman through the American Red Cross's Holiday Mail for Hero's program. Please visit their web site www.redcross.org and send a card or care package and show them that America does not forget and will not ever forget our military men and women.
Thanks for visiting. For information or if you would like to search for homes in the Georgetown/Round Rock/Cedar Park areas with no hassle or obligation be sure and check out Austin/Williamson County Texas Home Search