By Ray Hanania
But the attack was devastating. We’ve all read the stories, seen the movies and discussed it in school and among family. The U.S. didn’t believe the Japanese would attack by air. All of the battleships were docked next to each other, like sitting ducks.
The most devastating blow was the direct hit on the U.S.S. Arizona, which sank immediately taking with it 1,177 sailors. A white memorial has been erected over the ship, which remains below on the bay floor.
There is a good lesson to learn from Pearl Harbor, even 71 years later. Much animosity was created by the attack between Americans and the Japanese — we eventually fought the Empire of Japan and freed dozens of Islands and ended the war when we dropped nuclear bombs on Japan’s cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
But 71 years later, nearly all of that animosity is gone. Time does heal all wounds.
In addition to the Arizona memorial, there are other historic sites including the submarine the U.S.S. Bowfin, the U.S.S. Missouri and the Aviation Museum where Japanese bullets remain embedded in the hangar walls.
The largest number of tourists to Pearl Harbor are not Americans but Japanese. In fact, so many Japanese visit Pearl Harbor and the tourist sites that signs in English are also matched in Japanese, too.
Everyone was very respectful as we all waited at the Memorial entrance to board a boat that shuttles groups every 45 minutes across the bay to the Arizona Memorial adjacent to Ford Island. A video featuring a female Park Ranger explains that people must be quiet and reserved because the site is not just a memorial but a cemetery. After the attack, the military was unable to recover all of the bodies and it was decided that the dead would remain with the ship under water.
Since then, several dozen sailors who did survive the attack but who died years later have asked and were interred along with their shipmates.
The memorial has the names of each person who died engraved on a white marble wall. I recognized only one name, that of J.P. Steffan, who was originally from the Chicago area living in Cicero.
A separate commemoration wall was created to include the names of survivors who died and were buried with their shipmates years later.
Three Pearl Harbor survivors were at the gift shop where they autographed a book detailing that historic date and the war that ensued. I bought the book for my son and he had it autographed by each of the now retired sailors, who are all in their late 90s.
My son asked me if 70 years from now, people would be visiting Ground Zero in New York in much the same way. Would Arabs and Americans be standing shoulder to shoulder at the site to pay homage to our more modern-day tragedy when more than 3,000 Americans died.
I told him I thought so, but I wasn’t sure. Time does heal most wounds. What’s most important, though, is that we remember.
http://www.TheMediaOasis.com.) — City & Suburban News-Herald
Categories: Chicagoland Topics