Victory at Pearl Harbor…

The significance of December 7, 1941 is something that most of our parents do not need to be reminded about. It was a shocking, indelible moment for them, much like September 11, 2001 was for another generation of Americans.

There are not many veterans of Pearl Harbor still with us. Not many left who saw the Japanese planes diving out of the sky, felt the concussions as great battleships shuddered, burned, and sank. Not many left who can stand on the observation deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, gaze at that sunken iron tomb and say, “I knew a guy who went down with that ship.”

On December 7th, we remember what was lost at Pearl Harbor: the lives, the ships, the planes – our national innocence.

But on this day, we should also remember the miracle of Pearl Harbor: the incredible effort that raised so many of those ships from the bottom of the harbor, patched them up – and sent them back into the fight. Only three of the ships that were bombed in Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy were forever lost to the fleet.

And of the 30 ships in the Japanese fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, only one survived the war without being sunk.

The dynamism, optimism and resolve displayed by those military crewmen and civilians who, within months, raised and repaired the devastated wreckage of Pearl Harbor are qualities that Americans must call on once again to overcome our national challenges. Would that our leaders would spend less time sowing the fear of future attacks – and more time appealing to the better angels of our national identity.

“Can do” was the unofficial motto of the Seabees, the legendary Navy outfit that led the reconstruction effort at Pearl Harbor.

Where’s that American “Can do” spirit now?

P.S. Click here for a WWII-era Pearl Harbor song I found online. It may seem a bit too upbeat at first, but in the context of our ultimate victory at Pearl Harbor, it’s not too bouncy after all. It’s got that confidence and “Can do” spirit.


Filed under History

5 responses to “Victory at Pearl Harbor…

  1. well worth the reminder, and unless we remember we could be more swept up in defeat than the hope “can do” demands. thanks for the note.

  2. Colorado Mom

    How well I remember.

  3. 22charlie

    Thanks for that, Paul.  I so appreciate your thoughts and comments.  I was more than two years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed and living in San Pedro — home of the Army’s Fort MacArthur and adjacent to Terminal Island’s Naval Ship Yard.  I remember the sounds of World War II more than the pictures — the clanking and banging of the metal as the ships were being built 24/7 and shipped out to the world, the air raid sirens and the block wardens telling us to shut all lights, the sounds of the big guns on Point Fermin and the screams of my mom when she mistook a starry night to be an invasion of Japanese paratroopers.  I remember, too, the rowdy sailors on Beacon Street in San Pedro, grabbing girls and hurrying up to a hotel above the Shanghai Red Cafe — eager to have some fun before shipping out — later I would always think of that when I saw Frank Sinatra in his sailor’s suit in the movie with Gene Kelly.  We were so afraid — I can only imagine the fear of our troops when it looked, at first, that all might have been lost there on Oahu.   There were many reports of a Japanese ‘Zero” being shot down at the corner of 101 and Western Avenue in Lomita — my uncle said he saw the plane before they covered it and shut off all traffic.  It wasn’t that long ago…and now, we have a president-elect who acts on his arrogance and whims and seems to have little control over his mouth or emotions….with three military Generals in line for key cabinet posts, I shudder to think of our future.  May his provocations not lead us into trade, financial, arms or REAL war.   

  4. Shelly Goldstein

    Great sentiment, Paul. The link to the song didn’t work. Can you find another? Thnx

  5. 22charlie

    Hate to admit that I remember Groucho’s show and that crazy bird that came down when someone said the ”magic word.”  

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