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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remembering Pearl Harbor

This Day in History: December 7, 1941

The numbers of those who remember the sights, sounds, smells of world war, our veterans of WWII, are dwindling. Those who did survive returned home never to be the same, never to lose the memory of the horrors of war. Today, thoughts reflect back upon one of the defining moments in American history...a day that will live in infamy!

He was there...

His hearing is nearly gone, but the memories of the attack 73 years ago today are still fresh in Jim Carter's mind.

Carter, 93, of Republic, might be the Ozarks' last surviving veteran of Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Wife Helen said he rarely talks about what he went through. But late last week Carter, a Navy airplane mechanic on Ford Island in 1941, opened up briefly about that terrible day. Read the entire story...

Relive the Event... 

The day: calm and sunny. The people: going about their daily routines. 
The event: a pivotal moment in America’s history.

USS Arizona (BB-39) during the attack
Source: www.en.wikipedia.org
It was sunny, clear to partly cloudy skies, no different than most any other day with a calmness that rests on a Sunday. The view looking upward resembled a pastel canvas with patches of white scattered about reflective of someone dropping a paintbrush. Unbeknownst to the early risers or those still sleeping in their beds, the brightness of morning was soon to be reduced to ashes of grey.

There was no warning…

What happened at 7:55 AM on December 7, 1941 pierced the calmness, deafening the scene with what can only be described as dastardly.  Can you imagine the sound of alarms ripping through the air so earsplitting no earplug ever invented could dull the noise? What about the inability to dodge exploding bombs and incessant gunfire as fragments and bullets riveted anything, everything in sight? Can you see yourself heeding the call to abandon ship only to find you are clinging to a life preserver in the midst of burning oil with the last sounds you hear being your own screams as your eyes literally disintegrate in their sockets?

Remembering Pearl Harbor
It was premeditated. There was no warning…

Imagine a scene of people running, screaming, turning this way, turning that way totally confused, completely panic stricken for no visible clue led the way of which way to turn for there was no way, no apparent way to escape the terror. Buildings offered no hope of safety for the walls were rapidly crumbling burying beneath their weight men, women, even children. For some, what began as a leisurely Sunday morning drive ended...just like that, their life ENDED!  Without regard toward any living thing – plant, animal, human – life was consumed in an instance within flames of pure hell.

AP Navy Photo
Do you get the picture? There was no warning…

The Japanese shocked the world with the unthinkable leaving behind close to 2,400 Americans dead with another 1,100+ wounded. Recorded story after story fills page after page of book after book in an effort to preserve the memory of the lives lost, sacrificed at Pearl Harbor. A pivotal moment in America’s history led not to annihilation but to an awakening…the undaunted strength of America.  Audio playbacks capture the sounds, video and film reproduce the sights but only those who survived can recall the smells. Those who survived will never forget the sights, the sounds, or the smells of the horror inflicted at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Yet, it wasn’t the end as the Japanese had planned but the beginning of retaliation. The day after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famous Infamy Speech to a Joint Session of Congress, calling for a formal declaration of war on the Empire of Japan.

Awakening the Sleeping Giant: WWII

In hopes of crippling the United States Pacific Fleet, the Combined Japanese Fleet received orders to attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and surrounding military targets. We never saw it coming nor did they in America’s retaliation.

The element of surprise
Was the enemy’s plan
While watches were changing

Destiny played its hand
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How could this be possible?
We were center stage
Our ships were mighty forceful

Our men—strong and brave

But there was no warning…

An infamous airborne assault
Secretly designed to destroy on sight
Left a peaceful but great, nation

Awakened amid a horrible plight
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Ships sank in their moorings
Capsized or were beached
Hundreds helped to save lives

Thousands were never reached

But there was no warning…

—Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 1941

Incredibly four years later
A decision was made
Retaliation was certain

Time to lift our façade
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We called for surrender
Hoping peace could be made
Threat of destruction

Was the first hand played
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Ignoring the ultimatum
Commanded air raid
Two acute nuclear bombings

Lifted our façade

We gave no warning…

—Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, 1945

Hundreds of thousands succumbed
Leaving a country in pain
Six days after the bombing

Surrender finally came

If they had only heeded earlier forewarning…

“Fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
—Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884–1943)

 Excerpted from Awakenings from Then ’til Now by Sharla Lee Shults

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