Pearl HarborOctober 23, 2016 in the United States
My Mom worked for many, many years as a bookkeeper for a company in Old Montreal. As a very young lad, my Dad would sometimes take me to visit her at her office and we'd all go out for lunch together. I always loved going there because her boss, Mr. Meyers, had a fabulous wooden ship in a display case that I would admire each time we visited. It didn't matter how often I went there, I always spent many minutes firmly planted in front of the display case taking in the beauty of this marvel. During the war, Mr. Meyers had worked in one of Canada's internment camps for Japanese citizens. The story goes that he was so well liked by the Japanese, they carved this ship and presented it to him at the end of the war. It was a replica of the USS Missouri that had a small brass plaque on the rear deck engraved with the words, "JAP SURRENDER". It was aboard the Missouri that the peace treaty ending the second world war was signed.
As a high school student, I would work there during my summer vacations and continued to cherish the moments I could take out to gaze upon the wooden Missouri. In the mid-seventies, the business started having financial difficulties and one day Mr. Meyers called me into his office. He told me that he was going to have to close the doors of the company in the very near future, but before his assets were seized, he asked me if I'd like to take the Missouri home. It was an offer I couldn't refuse and I still own and treasure this memento of my youth.
I grew up in the sixties, which was really only 20 years after the end of WWII. At that time, I watched a slew of movies on the theme of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; From Here to Eternity, Tora, Tora, Tora and Midway to name a few. Coincidentally, I just finished reading Bill O'Reilly's new book, Killing the Rising Sun.
Viewing all these films and reading O'Reilly's account of the event didn't prepare me for what I experienced today.
Today I made my pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor to see where it all happened and, at the same time, catch a glimpse of the Mighty Mo.
Of course I was awestruck by the size and beauty of the real Missouri, but nothing prepared me for the emotion I felt as I toured the Arizona Memorial.
Our visit started with a short film that detailed the events that led up to the attack, the errors committed by the US forces that resulted in such a catastrophic outcome and the ferocity and precision of the Japanese assault. The film contained motion pictures from the actual attack including footage of the Japanese bomb that struck the forward magazine of the Arizona, setting off hundreds of tons of explosives. The blast was so devastating that 1100 sailors on board were killed that day with 900 of them entombed on the ship. Since the bombing, another 277 shipmates have decided to make the Arizona their final resting place as, in accordance with their last wishes, urns containing their ashes are dropped into the wreckage. Today there remain only five survivors from the Arizona's crew, all of them well into their 90's. Two of the survivors who are residents of Oahu regularly work at the memorial signing autographs for tourists.
It was a chilling feeling standing atop the grave of 1100 young men who lost their lives without ever knowing what hit them. Being at this place, seeing the names of all the servicemen that lost their lives that day and feeling the pervasive sadness that envelops the memorial, one cannot help but ponder the futility of war.
Will we ever learn?Read more