Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Infamy

[...] December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. -War Message Against Japan, Franklin D. Roosevelt

My youngest sister was visiting me on this date two years ago, and our discussion turned to the attack on Pearl Harbor and our father who was there. She asked me if I had been old enough to go to see Tora, Tora, Tora with Pop in the theater. I wasn't, but said I really like the movie. She said I wouldn't if I had gone with them. The whole movie he sat there and pointed at the screen "That didn't happen... They weren't there... That's not right..." At least I came by it naturally.

It's amazing how strange it seems separated by almost 65 years. It almost doesn't seem real. I have trouble placing the man who became my father in those black and white stills from back then.

The shock and horror those long ago people felt at a surprise and unprovoked attack I can somewhat understand. 9-11-2001 brought that experience into my life, but it's not the same. It can't be. My generation, the one before it and the ones that follow have had our senses dulled by a continuing onslaught of violent images and disturbing news most of our lives. So much so that we have made games and entertainment out of horrific events.

I received my father's Pearl Harbor medal posthumously by accident. It was only a year or so since he had passed away, I was living in NC then, and driving by a Holiday Inn with a "Welcome Pearl Harbor Survivors" sign out. I stopped on a whim, walked in and asked the first old guy I saw if he knew my dad. It was a dumb way to do it, but I was just a dumb kid back then.
"Bud? Nope, I didn't know any Bud." His real name was Thomas. "Oh, my God... You're his boy? Come on over here son." I spent the next hour or so hearing war stories and asking questions. I wish I had had a tape recorder, because I've forgotten most of them, but they were funny, and exciting, and scary. They told me great and wonderful things about my father, where he went and what he did, so much I couldn't absorb it all. Then they told me about the medal. I got all the paperwork together, sent everything to the department of the army, and I still have it displayed in my home to this day.

This post is nothing like what I set out to write today. I wanted to do something stirring and patriotic... But, this is more real, more true. This is what I think and how I feel, and have felt and thought around this date every year for a long time.

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2 Comments:

At December 09, 2005 8:09 AM, Blogger El-Doctor said...

Hey brother!

Here's to your dad, and my grand-dad, and my father, who went to places like Pearl Harbor, and Carentan, and Da Nang - so that you and I wouldn't have to.

I think you've seen my display of my Grandpa's Purple Heart, my dad's Vietnam service medal and Air Force commendation medal, and my Eagle Scout medal. Havoc laughed at me for displaying my Boy Scout badge next to their military badges, but I told him the same thing - it reminds me that they went so I wouldn't have to.

 
At December 09, 2005 12:45 PM, Blogger K-nine said...

Many a good Boy Scout made a good soldier later on. My youngest brother was in the Air Force first, then became a Boy Scout leader. It's all part of the same thing, discipline and knowledge. Thanks brotherman.

 

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