Friday, December 07, 2007

Remembering Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941

It was 66 years ago when the US fleet was devastated by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. That event woke a sleeping public to the reality of war that was already raging in Europe and the Far East. Today a few survivors of that attack will honor their fallen comrades in ceremonies and services around the country.

I visited the monument that stands over the watery grave of the battleship Arizona when I was in Hawaii many years ago. It is a sobering sight, the sunken grave of hundreds of service men and women still leaks oil forming a perennial slick on the water above. What I found strange there was in the souvenir shop. They had color booklets of the memorial with archive pictures of the attack. The first one I picked up seemed somewhat strange, and once I looked beyond the compelling photo on the cover, I found I was holding a Japanese translation of the visitor guide. The USS Arizona is a popular attraction for Japanese tourists. They visit the memorial with the same respect and somber mood as that of US tourists. For Japan, Pearl Harbor marked the beginning of a tragic period in their history, just as it was in ours.

Though we dictated the terms of the surrender, both sides in that conflict endured grievous losses and untold pain. WWII was a tragedy for the whole world not just the losing or winning side. Today, Japan is one of our staunchest allies, just as is Germany. I can only hope that someday we have the same relationship with our neighbors in the Middle East. After all, we share the same planet together, and it gets smaller every day.

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