Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day of Infamy

Not many had heard of these places in December of 1941

On  December 8th of 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt advised the world that the United States had been attacked by the Japanese. The prior day at 7:55 (HAST) a surprise assault had taken place at a far off island chain sending the U.S. Navy scrambling and suffering. Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu seemed an unlikely place to start a war but it was. This war was already raging in Europe but on this sleepy Sunday morning the tragic event would encircle the globe and awaken a slumbering giant.

World War II was on.

On the same day of the announcement President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and then on the 11th against Germany and Italy.

Millions upon millions of military personnel and civilians would die in the next four years - it was a horrible time for humanity.

Every year homage is paid to those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor - with 2,403 service personnel dead, another 1,178 wounded and let's not forget the 68 civilians killed and 35 wounded. A strange encounter for death and mayhem in such a peaceful and beautiful setting.

Yearly gatherings of remembrance
Sometimes war is like that - changing landscapes horribly both physically and emotionally.

But what were some of the other tragic stories on that day which would go down as a day of infamy - per Roosevelt? What were the behind the scene actions that make the use of a box of tissues necessary.

For example: Just on the USS Arizona - the entire 22 member band, U.S. Navy Band Unit 22 lost their lives. The only time in American history such a tragedy had occurred - not a single member lived through the morning of the attack. They had been getting ready on the deck of the Pennsylvania-class battleship for the daily flag raising ceremony when the attack took place. There was no where to hide on the 608 foot long ship - in an instant they were dead running to their respective battle stations.

USS Arizona under attack - artist rendering
How about the fact that there were 37 pairs or trios of brothers assigned to the Arizona on that fateful morning? 77 brothers awoke on that sunny day and within hours 62 were killed - 23 sets of brothers were no longer. It hadn't been the practice of the Navy to not allow siblings to work with each other even on war machines - that came into question after Pearl Harbor and the final straw was when all 5 Sullivan brothers were killed in November of 1942 when their light cruiser - the USS Juneau was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Pearl Harbor hadn't been enough - it took another loss of an entire family of siblings before the Navy put a stop to it and would not allow siblings to be in harms way together.

Sullivan Brothers

A somber and gorgeous memorial is placed above the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor - where it was anchored with 1.5 million gallons of fuel freshly injected for the long awaited trip to the mainland within the month. The ship was battered by shell after shell with her and all the brave men doing their best to remain above the water line - to no avail unfortunately. The great ship who had served with distinction since her first day in service back in June of 1915 sunk along with 1,000 who had been trying to protect her on that early morning of December 7th, 1941.

She's still there - easily visible with her hull and two gun turrets in plain sight - though below water. It's an eerily surrealistic place to visit - a hush of the tourists is automatic and reverence is the call of the day. J and L have visited together - held hands in silent prayer for those still there - who never went home.

USS Arizona - 9 quarts of oil still seep out daily - as though she is crying

It's a place to visit and to remember those who sacrificed so much for those of us still breathing freedoms sweet smell.

In 1958, President Dwight d. Eisenhower allowed for the creation of a national memorial dedicated to those who had fought and died on the Arizona. The monument was opened on May 30th of 1962 and more than a million people visit it every year.

Elvis Presley in March of 1961 did a benefit concert for the construction at Pearl Harbor's Block Arena and raised over fifty thousand dollars - more than 10% of the total cost.

Presley had just finished a two year stint in the U.S. Army and felt the need to assist.

Gotta love a man in uniform!
We at J and L love to research and write about it - though sometimes it is painful to hit the keyboard but as this day - December 7th comes and goes each year we must never forget those who have gone before us.

Some of the names of the fallen

The 75th anniversary of that dark Sunday is no different - we take off our hats, place our hands over our hearts and say thanks.

Thanks to all those at Pearl Harbor that day but especially the USS Arizona. A Day of Infamy - for sure.

We won't - we promise!

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