December 7, 2006, - 9:45 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Sixty-five years ago today, we were fighting a more finite, defeatable enemy. On December 7, 1941, 2,388 U.S. military personnel were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 1,178 American servicemen were wounded. 12 ships were sunk or beached, 9 damaged. We lost 164 aircraft to total destruction, and 159 others were damaged.
Today, we are fighting the new version of those allied with the Japanese–the new Nazis. They are far more committed, far more dangerous. They don’t just bomb ships and planes and military. They torture and murder innocent civilians.
Do we have the resolve? It seems that our resolve is sinking along with the Pearl Harbor Memorial which is sinking into the ground beneath it and may need to be propped up? Who will prop the back-to-sleep America from its sinking beneath the Islamic fundamentalism on our own shores?
Sadly, the “final reunion” of Pearl Harbor attack survivors was recently held. They are getting old and dying out. Will we remember well enough when they are all gone?
From The Chicago Tribune:
In the decades since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, countless survivors have made the long journey back to Hawaii every five years to remember comrades who were lost and to catch up with those who lived but later went their separate ways. They drink Scotch and tell war stories; they brag and weep. They often just sit together and say nothing at all.
But this year’s reunion holds an urgency that hasn’t been part of gatherings past: Most Pearl Harbor survivors, nearing their 90s or even older, say it will be their final trip back to this place that changed the course of their lives and their nation forever. Event organizers–many of them children of survivors who are ailing or already have died–pragmatically are calling this the “final reunion.” And survivors’ extended families, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, are coming along to the reunion in unprecedented numbers to glimpse history firsthand through their loved one’s eyes before the opportunity is gone.
“This is their last swan song,” said Sue Marks, an event volunteer whose father, a Pearl Harbor survivor, died a decade ago. “They know that a lot of them either won’t be around in five years or won’t be able to make the long trip.”
On Thursday morning, some 1,500 survivors, friends and family members will gather with 2,000 other guests and dignitaries for the 65th anniversary commemoration at Kilo Pier on Naval Station Pearl Harbor, looking out at the USS Arizona Memorial a half-mile away.
I’m proud that my great-uncle, the late Maurice J. Schlussel, MD, was a high-ranking Army officer (and career Army man) and, became head of Veteran’s Services for the South Pacific under the Veteran’s Administration. Read more on the attack at the National Park Service’s page on the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. “Five Things About Pearl Harbor” in today’s Detroit Free Press. Another touching Pearl Harbor vet’s reunion story in the Honolulu Advertiser.
From my coverage of this, last year, don’t forget these words from the Memorial:
My brothers lie in state,
In clear waters
Of testimony, their willingness
To answer our Nation’s call.
An angel bends down, whispers in my ear,
Never forget. Never forget.
Honor them. They
Gave their lives for you.
No man hath a greater love.
Do them honor.
And never forget.
Never forget Pearl Harbor. And never forget that we are facing an enemy far more fierce, an enemy that is slowly defeating us.
Tags: America, Detroit Free Press, Hawaii, head, high-ranking Army officer, Kilo Pier, Maurice J. Schlussel, Most Pearl Harbor, National Park Service, Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor Memorial, South Pacific, Sue Marks, the Chicago Tribune, The Honolulu Advertiser, Things About Pearl Harbor, U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, United States, USS Arizona Memorial, Veteran's Administration