Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The end of one world, the beginning of another

At the moment that I am typing this, 69 years ago a world was dieing.

The United States had climbed back into its shell after World War I. We had sparred diplomatically with the Japanese for a few years, and had been almost a belligerent in the European war that sprang to life in 1939.  But for the most part we were insulated in our sea to shining sea fortress. 

At this moment 69 years ago, soldiers and sailors in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were preparing for another day in a peacetime military.  Maybe they were on duty, maybe they were on pass.  Either way, they were in paradise, and probably looked forward to a quiet Sunday.

Some, such as crewmen of the destroyer Ward, had an inkling that something was about to happen, as they dropped depth charges on a submarine that had been sighted earlier.  Radar operators had already seen a cloud of fighters and bombers on their way in to Pearl Harbor and alerted their superiors to the presence of what was the first wave of Japanese attackers.

But for the most part, Pearl Harbor and its environs are enjoying a peaceful, quiet Sunday morning.

Within an hour, all of that would be gone forever. 

By the end of the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, along with nearby Army and Navy installations, over 3000 Americans were dead or wounded. By the time the war was over, more than 16 million Americans had put on the uniform.  By the time the Japanese emperor signed the surrender documents in Tokyo Harbor in 1945, 416,000 Americans had been killed.  America was shocked out of her isolation, and has spent the intervening 69 years trying to be a liberator, protector, and provider to the rest of the world.

Today we stop to remember the soldiers, sailors, and Marines who fought during those morning hours 69 years ago.  We mourn those who fell defending that island paradise, and we honor both their memories and those who survived.  May we live up to the sacrifices they made.
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Based on a work at daddybearden.blogspot.com.