Friday, January 10, 2014

Remembering the Past

Our first full day with Mom dawned perfectly bright and lovely. It was Christmas Eve.  We knew there were certain locations we wanted to visit, so we decided to start with some history and somenity.

Everyone learns in history that on the morning of December 17, 1941, the Japanese attacked American bases at Pearl Harbor. It is easy with 20-20 hindsight to look back at how the ships were tightly docked at battleship row and how the planes at the various airfields were lined up wing to wing -- everything providing excellent targets. The commander who ordered all of this was concerned about sabotage as they'd had far more intel about locals being a risk for this than that the Japanese would be so bold as to attack. Some say Roosevelt even knew the attack was coming but did not react so that the US would be drawn in to a war that we needed to fight.

I do know that one of my heroes, General Billy Mitchell, took a wedding trip with his wife throughout the Far East in 1924. Being a military strategist and an early advocate for airpower, Mitchell saw what the Japanese were planning. He predicted -- in 1924 -- that the Japanese would attack Ford Island in Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning at 7:30am using airpower.

By the way, he was rude and arrogant and driven -- those are NOT the reasons he is one of my heroes. I admire him because he was willing to stake his professional reputation and career on telling the truth, no matter the consequences.

There is a new (2006) museum in the Pearl Harbor memorial area, the Pacific Aviation Museum, located on Ford's Island in two of the old hangars that still bear the bullet holes of the attacking planes. These photos are from that museum.

 The old control tower.
We finished the day with a solemn trip to the Arizona Memorial.  Because it was late in the day on Christmas Eve, there weren't very many people around. That provided the right atmosphere. When my husband and I made this visit in 1993, a carnival like atmosphere, replete with Asian tourists with cameras and "selfie" shots made it very unpleasant.

Her stern lies beneath these swells.

Remnants of her bow. The ship in the background
is the Missouri -- where the US received the 
unconditional surrender of the Japanese forces.

Through the ceiling of the open memorial.

And finally, there was a quote over on the land side that Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly carried in her wallet throughout the war. My photo didn't turn out very well, so here it is:

Dear Lord
Lest I continue in my complacent way
Help me to remember 
Somehow out there a man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

1 comment:

The Bug said...

I would love to visit this memorial. I probably already told you that my grandparents made the trip when I was small - she lost a brother there.

Sadly, that quote is just as applicable today as it was then...