Sunday, December 07, 2014

...."A Date Which Will Live In Infamy"...

And thus began the American involvement in World War II.  Seventy-three years ago today the Empire of Japan attacked the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing thousands of Americans caught unaware.
Here's how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt portrayed that event the next day, when he asked Congress to declare it an act of war.
From that date until August 14, 1945, when Japan officially surrendered the United States of America joined allies fighting World War II on two fronts - Europe and Asia - to defeat the axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan.  For more details go HERE.  I've written about this war a few times, HERE, and HERE, for example.

Today, as the men and women who actually fought in this historic war - Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" - continue to die, taking with them the first-person experiences from this horrendous war, please take a minute to pause and consider the sacrifice they all made to keep our country free and protect our way of life.  A look at the timeline for World War II, HERE, HERE, and HERE, will be helpful for you to understand what transpired in world politics that led to this strife from 1922 until the end of the war in September, 1945.

I had three uncles who served proudly in the armed services during World War II.  They saw their duty and responded to the need of the nation.  Over the past couple years two local men - who served in the Pacific Theater as aviators and became my close friends - passed away.  Author, teacher and Daily Pilot columnist Joseph N. Bell - about as liberal man as I have ever known - and George Grupe - a local businessman and patriot and about as a conservative man as I have ever met - both served during World War II as flyers.  Both had their college educations interrupted by the war and both were proud of their service and shared stories with those who asked.  Grupe, in particular, gave patriotic presentations to any organization interested in hearing about the war.  He spoke to school groups, business organizations, church groups, for dozens of years, trying to provide perspective to the history books.  I'm proud to have known them and and glad they shared their lives with me.

Several times a month my path crosses with that of Sparks McClellan, a retired local businessman with family roots in Costa Mesa that go back to 1926.  We had mutual friends and have become friends over the past few years.  Sparks is a quiet man, who proudly wears a cap and jacket that commemorate his service as a distinguished Naval Aviator flying Hellcats during World War II.  He and I will chat about his service from time to time.  The memories, now fading with the passage of time, still remain.

Former Mayor Jack Hammett is a Pearl Harbor survivor.  He was there that day, serving as a Naval corpsman, when more than 2,000 of his comrades died in that sneak attack.  He, too, proudly wears the regalia commemorating his service time.

There are still a few survivors of my parent's generation - the one that fought this war - so find time to seek them out and thank them for their service to our nation.  We owe them everything...

And, remember what this day represents.  Remember that our nation remains free as long as men and women like those who stepped up during World War II continue to do so.


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Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

Thank you for publishing this reminder. Everyone knows about 9/11, but to young people today WW II is ancient history, and WW I is all but forgotten. Even Armistice Day is now Veterans' Day, and hardly anyone recalls why it is celebrated on November 11th.

We Americans are a people with short memories. Maybe that's why we have been continually at war for almost 100 years - except for the Depression era, when no one had money to spend on armaments. It seems every generation has to learn everything all over again.

The first casualty of war is truth. The second is freedom. Sometimes we have no choice but to fight to preserve freedom for the next generation, but now I think we have yielded too much freedom for an illusory security. Maybe we need to find ways to live in this dangerous world without resorting first to killing people.

12/07/2014 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...

Thank you for remembering. My parents were children and living in Hawaii on this fateful day. My Filipino side of the family lived in the valley, and the zeros started firing there. My father had to be pulled under the house to safety. My Japanese side of the family, were not interred, but...

I know of the great men and women stationed at Hickum, and will always be grateful to our troops. I would not be here, if not for their service.

12/09/2014 10:47:00 AM  

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