Chilling memories of a world at war
Dec. 10, 2000
The deceit of war came full circle at dawn on Sunday morning, Dec. 7. 1941. And, the "Day of Infamy' when the Japanese hit the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was born. For those sailors and soldiers fortunate enough to survive Pearl Harbor and its brutal aftermath, the memories of fallen comrades and a world at war will never fade.
But the memory is just as intense for family and friends left at home. Physically and perhaps psychologically, the "not knowing" whether fathers and sons and husbands were alive made for as many sleepless nights at home as there must have been on the front lines of war.
So it is that we recognized Dec. 7 as "Pearl Harbor Day" and shrug the cobwebs off the stark reality, the sheer destruction of what happened that day. Lives lost, ships sunk, planes disabled, the U.S. Navy a shadow of its former self.
America changed that day, too. We emerged with a resolve to make things right again. Our country opted, ultimately, reluctantly, for a major role in reshaping the world. The sleeping giant awakened.
We remain indebted to veterans such as Don Martin, of Meridian, a Navy machinist stationed aboard the battleship USS West Virginia when the torpedoes and bombs hit Pearl Harbor. Even today, at age 83, he still recalls in vivid detail how it felt when the first of at least five torpedoes rocked the West Virginia.
The USS West Virginia sank in 50 feet of water and 105 sailors lost their lives. Remarkably, and as unbelievable as it must have been to the Japanese, the West Virginia was raised about five months after the attack and was back in commission in July of 1944.
On this 59th anniversary, indeed, in the anniversaries to come, our thoughts must not only be of the men who died, but also of the families they left behind, and the country they protected n for the rest of us.