Pearl Harbor – Memories still fresh, Japan’s PM to Visit

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Pearl Harbor – Memories still fresh, Japan’s PM to Visit

People who have never been in combat cannot grasp the memories that are shared by those who were. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in a devastating blow to American forces. It was a terror attack that will never be forgotten by either side. Japan’s PM, Shinzo Abe, is set to visit the Naval Base at the end of the month as an “act of reconciliation.”

Pearl Harbor

If you have ever visited the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, there are moments when tears involuntarily fall from your eyes.

Whether you are a veteran who remembers, or just a civilian who sees it for the first time, there is no way to sit through the videos, the pictures of Japanese planes raining destruction from the sky, the sight of great battleships sinking with men trapped below decks… without shedding a tear.

War is hell. If you go there, you will know that without a shadow of a doubt.

Personal stories

For a friend of mine who was at Hickam Airfield on December 7, the shrieks of the dying, the smell of death and bombs were vivid to his dying day. He didn’t talk about it much. Neither did my Uncle Bud who served on the USS Tennessee. For him as well, the smells and sounds of that day were too vivid to recount to family. It wasn’t just a “day that will live in infamy,” it was a day  permanently engraved in their memories.

“There are parts of this whole thing that I can’t talk about. If I do talk about it, I cannot sleep.” Lauren Bruner,  Navy Veteran, survivor of the USS Arizona

US Navy file photo of the USS Arizona on Dec 7, 1941

They moved past it, but carried it deep inside. Because they were the “Greatest Generation,” they knew how to move forward with courage. There was no “safe space” to run to.

The Remembrance ceremony

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack that killed nearly 2,400 people. The few dozen survivors, their families, and thousands of others were set to hold a moment of silence at exactly 0755 – the moment that Japanese planes hit their first target.

The pathos of that day remains, even after 75 years.

Japanese visit

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Pearl Harbor memorial in Hawaii Dec 26 and 27. He will be the first leader of his country to visit the place where the United States was thrust into WWII.

President Obama visited the site of the Hiroshima bombing that ended WWII earlier in the year, so Abe is visiting the site of where the war began, as an “act of reconciliation.”

Hawaii has an extremely diverse population. The memory of that day has faded for most, but never forgotten by any. A couple of years ago, I sat in one of the presentations at the Pearl Harbor memorial with Japanese tourists. They were silent, hard for them to comprehend a time when the two nations were mortal enemies.

What Abe says on the day he visits will not change the memories of the few left who lived through that day.  But we are allies now. It is hoped that when he visits, he will sit through the presentation videos that go through the attack on December 7, 1941.

The way to prevent war is to know the history of it.





Faye Higbee
Faye Higbee
I'm a published author of 4 books, numerous short stories, blogs and editorials. I've been working at Uncle Sam's since 2013. I have two degrees in Criminal Justice and worked for over 31 years at a local police department. I have been a patriotic American since I was a child.

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