Pearl Harbor Day – A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

Pearl Harbor Day - Quicken Loans Zing Blog At Quicken Loans, we work extra hard to uphold our commitments to our nation’s veterans. Whether it’s through something as large as sponsoring a veteran’s career fair or the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic to something as small as a simple blog post about local veteran outreach, we remain dedicated to honoring those who have served  - and are serving – our country.

And today we honor those who served by recognizing the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces conducted a surprise early morning attack on the United State’s naval base located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Their intention was to attack the larger and more powerful U.S. pacific fleet in the hopes that if our ships were out of action, they would prevent American influence from spreading throughout the pacific and be unable to stop Japan from taking control of the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia).

More than 350 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes descended on the base, damaging all eight of the U.S. Navy’s battleships that were there, sinking four of them.  Three cruisers, three destroyers and a minelayer were also damaged or sunk. That’s not to mention the 188 U.S. aircraft that were destroyed.

All in all, 2,402 Americans were killed with 1,282 wounded.

This attack on Pearl Harbor was a turning point in the war, because up until then, American participation had been virtually non-existent. In fact, an overwhelming majority of citizens did not want to get involved. However, all of that changed after the news of the attack spread and the United States declared war on Japan on the following day with President Roosevelt’s now famous “Infamy Speech.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The thing that I find most necessary about days like today is honoring those men and women who gave their lives bravely in service to our country through education and remembrance. My son, Jude, who is only 6, knows about Pearl Harbor and what happened. He knows and is aware of military history because I do not want the lives of service members to have been given in vain.

And honestly, you would be surprised at the amount of kids who have no idea what it means to honor a veteran, to put their hand over their heart when singing the National Anthem, or truly understand the importance of celebrating the history of our country.

We need to remember to honor those who serve by educating, by telling stories, by remembering that there are those who love this country and will fight for our freedoms, even if it means losing their own. My beloved friend Emily’s father is one of the most interesting and engaging people I know. He happened to write an email to Emily talking about his memories of this day, and I was moved to share his email:

“I remember this day. I was only five but I remember sitting on the floor in the living room of the house on Hastings street while the family listened to the old console radio. My mother was crying. My oldest brothers Bob and Russ (identical twins) were in the Army. Russ was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked and we didn’t know if he was safe. My cousin Don Cummings was a ham radio operator and contacted someone who checked and learned that barracks where Russ lived wasn’t hit. He and many others took pictures of the Japanese planes. But their cameras were all confiscated and not returned.

Russ said they didn’t pay any attention to the first wave of planes that went over. Some of the Navy pilots apparently used to fly over the barracks and drop garbage bags on the barracks as a joke. You can imagine the rotting garbage on a roof in Hawaii.

That was the only combat Russ ever saw. He was transferred to Arizona and spent the rest of the war training Military Police (MPs). My brother Bob was assigned to the 326th Red Arrow Division as a Browning Automatic Rifleman and went to New Guinea to fight the Japanese. It was a brutal experience. He was wounded three times and contracted malaria. The 326th saw some of the most difficult combat in the Pacific.
Before the war even family had difficulty telling the twins apart. When they returned Bob looked ten years older. He was thin, had lost his hair from malaria and was ” shell shocked” (PTSD). Bob lost most of his right hand in a factory accident a few months after his discharge. They both ended up working at the Post Office. But not together at the same branch. They married very different type of women and never socialized until much later in life. Very hard on my mother.

I once asked her when do you stop worrying about your kids? She said “your brothers are 72 and I worry about them every day.” They both died before she did but had reconciled and were friends, which made her very happy.

So Pearl Harbor is amongst my earliest memories, just 5 months before my 6th birthday.”

It’s imperative that we remember today through stories and history as told by those who lived through it – either as a veteran or as a soldier. As poet and essayist George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

 

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