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Never Forget

USS Arizona

USS Arizona

December 7, 1941 – It wasn’t a movie.

60 Responses

  1. this is a poem about this year:

    I blink and you are there
    I blink again and you are gone
    I have lost control-
    My tongue refuses to speak
    My eyes refuse to open
    to the new reality
    They like the dark soothing mist
    and the faded pictures
    I did not turn the page
    the wind blew it over
    I was asleep in the sun
    I listened to the busy bees
    and watched the lazy butterflies
    No, no rush
    No, no speed-
    Swing to and fro
    The twitch of a cat’s tail
    The bounce of a neglected ball
    All in tune to the universe
    When I remember what I forgot
    in the eyes of Nature’s kin

  2. My dad was stationed in Hawaii for a while , but I think it might have been after the bombing, he did not talk about it much . I wish there was a way to look up someones service record . Weird thing tho, after my son had served in the Gulf and Haiti and other places, he volunteered for Somalia , but he was assigned to Hawaii instead , and was in the same barracks where my dad had been , for three years.

  3. Swan, Most WWII vets that I knew – father, uncles, freinds’ fathers -never discussed their war service, almost as I talking about it was too much to bear.

  4. chatblu, That’s true of my dad. I know that he flew “The Hump” from India to China and has The Distinguished Flying Cross & Purple Heart. But, we only know that through my grandmother. He’s never talked about his service. And (as you said) we don’t know any details at all.

  5. Today December 7 is my birthday and I tell everyone that I was born on the day that will live in infamy except a decade letter.

    It is very special for me to share my birthday with this special day and I use this to remind everyone of the importance of keeping this country safe and I pray for those who life were lost and for those that never forgot what they live.

  6. Swanie — I’m seconding chatblu about WW2 vets not liking to talk about their service — my grandfather didn’t talk about his service in WW2 much either except for vague statements (for example, he would never go into the water at the beach because “I’ve had enough swimming in my time” I found out from my grandmother that he was on the U.S.S. Indianapolis). He also couldn’t stand the sound of fireworks & wouldn’t go to any New Year’s eve celebrations where fireworks were involved, etc. But I never got any details from him — the only things I know came from my grandmother or my father.

  7. Swanie: If you know with which unit your father served, it is possible to track their combat honors by unit.

  8. katiebird, your dad was a pilot??

  9. I had a great-something grandfather who served in the the Civil War and had a cannonball scar on his leg. They say he never talked about it either. Theri was only one guy in town that talked about it and bragged a lot, but hed was in supply and never saw action.

    The ones who saw action never talked about it.

  10. Thanks for the reminder….

  11. We visited the Arizona site a few years back, an humbling experience. What was amazing, though, was the number of Japanese people who had come there to extend their apologies — and the old WWII American veteran guide who told us that he no longer held a grudge because “you have to forgive.”

    Uncles (Army in North Africa) and father in law (Navy in South Pacific). All three suffered in some ways all their lives. The uncles were too young but volunteered and were accepted. One had to eat bananas all night to meet the weight requirement. (He later served with MacArthur in occupied Japan.) Neither uncle would ever discuss anything.

    It definitely wasn’t a movie. It was also amazing this past summer to see the delight on the faces of the old vets visiting the WWII memorial in DC at the time we were there.

  12. Fortunately, Dad got to see the WWII memorial before we lost him.

  13. My dad joined the reserves to get some help with college. He was shipped out right after Pearl Harbor and spent close to five years in the Pacific. He was only 19. He never talked about it either, but in the past few years, we’ve gotten him to tell us some things. He never talks about the fighting though. My dad was at Guadalcanal. The North Dakota National Guard units were sent there to back up the Marines, who were stranded with no food or support. They were down to one meal a day when the ND army bigades landed. After one battle, my dad was the only survivor from his company.

  14. Swanspirit,

    You can look up your Dad’s service record. My mom and I looked up my dad’s on Ancestry.com. They made service records available free for awhile a couple of years ago. There must be other places to look, but you could also join and get access to the military records there.

  15. OT– but Sunny von Bulow died yesterday after nearly 30 years in a coma.


  16. I had two uncles who served in WWII, both in the Marines.

    One was wounded in the Solomon Islands and never fully recovered. He died a few years after the war (before I was born)

    The other one was a Guadalcanal but never talked about the war (he died a few years ago)

    I have met many men in my life who served in combat. Most of them will talk about their military service but few want to talk about combat.

  17. Happy Birthday, Footsoldier!
    I lived through the bombing of Pearl Harbor, er, the *second* bombing of Pearl Harbor. I lived there during the filming of Tora, Tora, Tora. We routinely saw japanese aircraft in formation flying over us. I lived in Pearl City at the time, not very far from the original action. I can remember the day they built half a replica of the Arizona and bombed the shit out of it again. Lots of fire and smoke. Demolition. Kids love it. Of course, the truth is much more somber. The Arizona Memorial floats in Pearl Harbor, a curved white colonaded monument. You can still see bits of the original ship through the water and back in 1970, the oil was still seeping from the ship’s hulls, leaving a slick to be sloshed around the memorial’s base. There are men under it. It is their final resting place. In the middle of a bustling harbor with the dull gray shells of Navy ships all around, it is a breezy little refuge of silence and repose.

  18. My dad was a bombadier and bombed germany after DDay … he used to not talka bout his experience at all except with other vets, but since I went thru Hurricane Katrina, he’s started talking to me about it … I think he had the idea that I finally had this big undescribable experience with massive destruction around me and I could finally get it …

    I took him to the National WW2 museum down here, which then was the DDAY musuem, it’s really a great place to take WW2 vets, they volunteers are mostly vets, they talk about their experiences, all ww2 vets get in free and are given recognition, there’s also a program where they can ‘donate’ any materials they have and give an oral testament about what they did during ww2 … it’s really a neat experience.

    My uncle that graduated first in his class from harvard law school was in charge of the Japanese internment program –in terms of ensuring it would be constitutional/legal and making the case for it for the FDR administration … he was in the intell wing … my other uncle was a sailer and worked as an engineer in the pacific theatre

  19. and i married my japanese husband on December 7 back in 1975 … and yes it was meant to send a message

  20. and ot: oblahblah is on meet the press

  21. My father joined up before Pearl Harbor: he thought war was coming and wanted to be properly trained first. He and my mom eloped Nov. 1941 and were together when they heard about the attack. He was on leave but had to rush back to the base. He spent about 5 years in the Pacific in the Army Air Corps. After many years and much urging, he would talk about a few of his fighting experiences, but never anything classified (and he was involved with some things which were classified), even after 50 years had run.

    If you are interested in stories of bombers in the European theater, I highly recommend a little book by Kenneth Clarke, “The Trip Back” subtitled “World War II as Seen from the Belly of a B-17.”


  22. dakinikat: Happy Anniversary?

  23. Although ready to ship out when I was a baby, my dad was sent home when I had a case of measles -they thought I was going to die – by the time he got back his unit was gone and he was assigned to another but never made it overseas.

    My uncles on the other hand did. One was in the Phillipines – never spoke of what went on over there but he suffered from flashbacks for years afterward -another drove a munitions truck in Italy and Germany towards the end of the war – he was then reassigned – he too never said much about it except that he was one of the Americans who liberated Auschwitz and corresponded for years with one of the prisoners he helped release.

  24. RD: nope happy divorce!!! we divorced in 1995

  25. and it was finalized in December but not on the 7th!

  26. Joanelle:

    The Red Army liberated Auschwitz

  27. joanelle, I thought that the Russians liberated Auschwitz.

  28. I often wonder if Obama and Bush remember this day when they claim that “oceans no longer protect us.”

    Thanks for the reminder, Myiq!

    My father was 4-F’d by a sympathetic Army physician. I feel very lucky that he never had to go to war. I think it is physical and mental torture than no human being should have to endure, and I feel a great deal of sympathy and admiration for those that have survived it.

    My grandfathers were both over in Europe during WWI, and didn’t serve then. Let’s just say, we are not a military family.

  29. my grandfathers both had deferrals because they were in industries considered essential… my one grandfather worked for the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas and was in charge of the war bond programs for both world wars, my other granddad worked for the railroad … I guess because they moved troops and materials around on trains, if you were part of a train crew, you got a deferral

  30. Yes they did, however, the few American units in the area participated in the liberation. Many different languages but a compassionate, yet painful job got done –

  31. catarina, No he wasn’t a pilot – my dad was a radio operator and navigator. He has told stories but, I’ve got no idea why he got any of his medals.

  32. Joanelle:

    There were no American units on the Eastern front.

    Auschwitz was in Poland, which is east of Germany.

    The Americans and British were advancing from the West, and the Germans were in between.

    Your uncle may have helped to liberate a concentration camp but it wasn’t Auschwitz.

  33. My father-in-law was on the ships that picked up those left after the real Bataan Death March. Barry’s blithe reference to that in the primary did not go down too well…. as you can imagine . It’s scary to have someone so oblivious to others suffering supposedly in charge….just as it has been these last 8 years

  34. My father was lucky-he was too young by a year to participate. But he hated War all his life, and never ever fell for any spin about it.

    OT have you seen this quiz? Can you tell Obama and Bush apart? It’s harder than it may seem….

  35. Ok, I just called my cousin to “fact check” she said there were actually three camps called Auschwitz – her dad was one of the Americans (there weren’t many) who participated at Auschwitz II – carrying out those who could actually survive.

    The Russians were the first into the main camp and wsere in fact “liberators”. She said there were very few Americans who participated.

  36. Well, my uncle died a few years back so maybe it was another camp but the story I heard was about Auschwitz

  37. Joanelle:

    It was probably Dachau, which was located in Bavaria and was liberated by the American army.

  38. Could be – I a mere baby and he didn’t speak much of what went on over there.

  39. I don’t think it matters much which camp as long as people in those camps were helped.

  40. Here is a map of the Nazi concentration camps:

  41. Joanelle:

    The reason I commented about it is because there was a minor flap earlier this year when Obama said his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz.

  42. I have met many men in my life who served in combat. Most of them will talk about their military service but few want to talk about combat.
    I worked part time in a VA Hospital for many years. The “shooters”, about 10% of the WWII vets never talk about it. The “rah..rah” VFW, American Legion folks came from the other 90%.

  43. Hey everyone thank you for the information on how to find my dads service record . He was a turret gunner on a big bomber, and he flew out of Africa and over Italy , and possibly Germany . I have to ask my brother to look up some of the stuff we have in boxes , there might be more info I can reference, to find out his unit.
    He Had a purple heart and kept his brown leather bomber jacket that had bombs imprinted on it ( my brother SOLD IT arrrgh, never thinking my son might want it )

  44. I loved my uncle, he was my Godfather, but I heard tell that he was a bit wild as a young man – going AWOL once just to come home to see his girlfriend and future wife. He drove that munitions truck sometimes behind enemy lines and was almost killed a couple of times. I guess you have to be a bit wild and crazy to even consider driving a munitions truck – but he made it home alive.

  45. It’s true what was just said, that in Auschwitz there were two or three different camps. My mother’s landlord survived Auschwitz, and in the fifties my mother’s neighbor Suzanne had also survived. Because my mom always had an exceptionally kind disposition, survivors would sometimes talk to her and reveal things they would not say to others.

  46. Sorry, I meant that Suzanne (I think she was from the Hungarian Jewish community) survived and became my mother’s neighbor in New York in the fifties.

  47. I knew a man in my town who was a bombardier in a Flying Fortress. He flew over 30 missions, including the bombing of Dresden. Never uttered a word about it to me. Neither did his best friend who was part of the force that liberated Dachau. War is not glamorous, and leaves indelible scars.

    Thanks for posting this myiq.

  48. One of our former neighbors was a crew member on the Enola Gay –

  49. “War is not glamorous”

    The Bush administrations tried to prove otherwise with cool videos of “smart” bombs and real carnage blocked from public view.

  50. “War is not glamorous”

    What upset me was preventing the press from taking pics of the flag draped coffins returning from Iraq . That blew my mind, that such a lack of respect could be disguised as “privacy” , when in reality he simply didnt want people to get too upset that so many kids were losing their lives over there ; and freedom of the press was compromised as well, without a whimper from them.

  51. Forgive me going slightly ot here, but swanspirit, you have a wonderful serenity about you and the way you post, and I love that little swan image you have. A little tribute from a fan, as it were.

  52. After the attacks on December 7th and 911 you would think that the government would get a clue.
    Obama should call the heads of the various intelligence agencies into the Oval Office in Feburary and let them know if they don’t end the turf wars they will be looking for employment in retail hamburger sales.

  53. Swannie:

    It’s a topic worthy of it’s own post.

    The right wing is convinced we lost in Vietnam because of bad PR

  54. MrMike:

    That’s like demanding that the government end waste, fraud and abuse in spending.

  55. Thank you Johninca… some days are more serene than others and some ..not at all 😉

    Myiq said :
    The right wing is convinced we lost in Vietnam because of bad PR
    and ,
    That’s like demanding that the government end waste, fraud and abuse in spending.

    I so agree, but it is difficult to tell who is more delusional , the right wing for thinking that way , or we over here in the center / left thinking that will change

  56. The right is often deliberately dense regarding this kind of stuff. They have a completely different standard of measurement then we do. When we measure in lives they often measure in dollar bills.

  57. By the way, I didn’t stay up last night in time to see the photos but I really enjoyed seeing them this AM.

  58. What happened this year should break down the old ideology stereotypes. I know a guy far to the right of Genghis Khan who loves Hugo Chavez, and others who supported the Kucinich impeachment resolution.

    (Last year I encountered a Kucinich supporter who was so lovey dovey that she made my heart melt. I used to call those people Kucinigens).

  59. katiebird@10:13a
    My dad was also in the CBI theater in the motor pool .
    His unit was involved in building the Ledo Road from India to Burma.
    I remember the day he left to go overseas and I remember the day he came home. He never talked about his service but I do know many soldiers were lost when their convoys were attacked.
    My brother worked at Ford motor co building tanks and was married with 3 kids and was drafted but was stationed at Fort Knox Ky working with tanks.
    When I visited Hawaii , I went to the Arizona Memorial.
    The feeling of reverence there is overwhelming.

    My husband was in the Korean Conflict {the forgotten war}
    We have a friend that was at the frozen Choseon.
    Neither one talk about the combat just the stories of what they did when they were on leave.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if man could finally learn to live together without war and help each other instead of hurt each other.



  60. All you Baby Boomers – we all grew up knowing that our parents generation were heroes, didn’t we? The Depression, then the war. What stories they had, and now there are so few of them left.

    I have to share the strangest World War Two story ever.
    One of my uncles was part of the crew on a bomber over Germany. The boy sitting next to him became extremely agitated and insistent on switching parachutes with my uncle, saying that his (this boy’s) parachute had his “unlucky” number. Of course my uncle was really reluctant to exchange parachutes over Germany but this boy was so distressed and insistent that he finally did it.
    Five minutes later their plane was hit and they had to parachute out, over Germany. My uncle looked to the side on his way down, and he saw this boy dropping like a stone. The parachute he had just switched was defective.

    This bothered him so much all his life. He spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. He told us he thought of this boy and the parachute every day of his life, and never understood it.

    Anyway – thanks for remembering Pearl Harbor.

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