Wednesday, December 7, 2011
70 Years Ago
70 years ago today, World War II started for the United States.
My family visited Pearl Harbor several years ago. It was a moving event, and I highly suggest it for anyone who has not been. I was surprised by the large number of Japanese tourists who were there. Turns out the majority of people who visit the Visitor Center and the Arizona Memorial are Japanese. We were there on a weekday, and there were hundreds of them. When we visited the Missouri, not a single one was to be seen. We asked one of the Park personnel about it, and he said it was normal - while the Japanese will pay their respects to where they started the war, they will not acknowledge or honor the place where the war ended. I guess that's to be expected.
I saw a 'Dan Rather Remembers' program last night about Pearl Harbor. He interviewed some members of a Japanese high school group who were touring. The leader of the group said that he was shocked by the story and photos of the attack. Their history textbooks devote one line to the attack. ONE LINE. That's all the youth of Japan are being taught about how their country started the war - and its been that way for decades. (I wish they had provided a translation of that one line, would like to know what it says.) Shamefully, our own school children aren't taught much more than that - take a look at a high school or junior high history text, and you'd think the war never happened.
On the starboard weatherdeck of the USS Missouri, looking forward. The commemorative plate in the deck is the exact spot where the surrender agreement ending WWII was signed.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Group is disbanding at the end of this year. The few remaining vets who survived the attack are for the most part too frail to make the yearly trip, and in a few years they will all be gone.
Take a moment today to remember what our nation went through on that day and the four years that followed.
Looking forward from the Missouri's bridge, over the twin 16" main turrets, towards the Arizona Memorial.