Pearl Harbor Day
Most people are aware, on some level, that December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. Before I personally toured Pearl Harbor a few years ago, the massive impact of that day had eluded me. Then I stood there on the memorial of the USS Arizona listening to the gripping story of what transpired that day and remembering that my own dad, Ralph Greene, had been right there on December 7, 1941 when the winds of war shifted to obliterate an unsuspecting Pacific fleet.
I had a multitude of questions that I wanted to ask him after having actually been there to that revered, sacred location where I could almost visualize the Japanese bombers coming in across the blue skies on that February morning of my visit. It was simply too late, however. Dad had passed away about five years before I found myself visiting Oahu.
Why had I never sat down with him to ask him to tell me about that day? I wanted to hear every detail—from the time he awakened that morning until he sent a telegram to his parents that served as an answer to their prayers—word that he was okay.
As it turned out, Dad’s family was going through a devastating time. His older brother George was killed in a motorcycle accident in North Carolina on December 15, 1941—just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After Pearl Harbor settled down, Dad was shipped out to Guadalcanal and then the Solomon Islands. Aunt Ruth stated in her family history accounting, “Those were dark days. It was very hard on Dad and Mama with the loss of one son and not knowing what news would come from day to day about the other one under such grim circumstances.”
I clearly remember my dad always having a special fondness for my cousin David. When George was killed, his wife Violet was expecting, and David was born six months after George’s death. I think David was always Dad’s link to the brother he had lost when he was far away in the midst of a cruel war.
An article about Dad’s service in a local newspaper in 1944 said, “His most interesting experience was once on Guadalcanal when the Japs raided them with 110 planes. The Japs lost 97 while we lost only six. Everywhere he looked, there was a Jap plane falling. Then there are many incidents, he says, that one doesn’t care to remember, not now anyway. He says the only reason for his being here today is due to the prayers of friends and loved ones, with a little luck on the side.”
Visiting Pearl Harbor changed my life. It injected me with a fervent passion to influence people to capture and preserve their stories to pass along to future generations. We need to engage the older folks in conversations and record their stories. Those exchanges can be transcribed into a document that will preserve history. And as senior citizens, we need to embrace our responsibility to share our stories with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and provide a priceless document of family history to them.
Fast forward from December 7, 1941: This is a photo of the young lady Dad fell in love with when they began dating in North Carolina in April, 1945—the beautiful lady who would eventually become my Mom!
Just a few facts about Pearl Harbor: the bombing began at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, 12:55 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The attack that day took less than two hours, killing approximately 2,500 and wounding approximately 1,000. Almost 300 airplanes and 18 American ships were lost.
In 1949, the Pacific War Memorial Commission was formed to create a permanent tribute to those who were lost, but it wasn’t until 1958 when President Eisenhower signed legislation to create a national memorial that action was taken. Funds came from the public and private sectors, including over $50,000 raised by Elvis Presley via a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor for this purpose. This funded more than 10 percent of the final cost of the memorial, which was dedicated May 30, 1962. At http://www.pacifichistoricparks.org, Jamie Lee Curtis narrates a brief audio tour about Pearl Harbor.
Time has a way of speeding along like a high flying Peregrine Falcon diving to catch its prey. Don’t let the stories be forever lost. There is no rewind—no going back. The time is now. Besides, it’s actually an enjoyable experience! Learn how to jump-start your memoir project in 7 Easy Steps!
Visit http://www.awriterspresence.com for format options for this helpful guide.
On this Pearl Harbor Day, let’s say a prayer of thanks to all veterans who have served to keep our country free and continuous prayers for those who currently serve and sacrifice on our behalf. Thank God for those willing to risk their own lives for our safety. We owe them more than we can ever repay.