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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Names on a wall

If you did a random survey of the military today, asking why someone joined, you'd get a variety of answers. Some joined because they felt it their patriotic duty, some for the steady paycheck (no matter how small) in an unstable job market, some to see the world, some to get off the small farm they grew up on (or away from the big city), and others because they had nothing better to do. Sixty-nine years ago, the answers would likely have been the same. For those joining the Navy, an assignment to Hawaii was likely a dream come true. Travel wasn't as easy or cheap as it is today and a visit to Hawaii was something most of them would never have thought even remotely possible. For thousands of young men (and a few young women) a posting to the Pacific Fleet was the assignment of a lifetime. Outside their duties were beaches, bars, and the opposite sex in a lush paradise. Life likely seemed perfect.
In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, this dream assignment became a living nightmare as the Japanese dropped bombs over the fleet and surrounding bases. Chaos ensued as sailors, some just boys realy, stumbled from their bunks, many still sleeping or tired from just getting of watch and some still a little hungover from the previous night's carousing. They did not yet know it, but they were in the middle of a major event in world history.
More than 2400 men (and a few women) lost their lives that day. More than 1100 were wounded.
Today, despite the horror and heroics of that fateful day, they are mostly forgotten. Sixty-nine years ago though, they were fathers, sons, brothers, mothers, daughters and sisters. They had families "back home" who loved and cared for them and looked forward to receiving letters filled with their adventures on that far away island. It's easy to forget that they were real people, not just names on a wall or characters played by actors in Hollywood blockbusters. Some were long time Navy vets close to retirement, and others were just at what should have been the beginning of their lives.  On that morning, some of those men became heroes.  Others became a name on a wall.  Remember them today, not as a name, but as a person with hopes and dreams for a life that was cut short in an instant.




4 comments:

Denny P 3 said...

Great post!!! Too many people today forget the importance of December 7th. Thank you for reminding them.

family of 4 on the move! said...

Very nicely put!!

Stacy said...

Great post. Couldn't have said it better myself.

tarichuck said...

TY for the wonderful reminder of the importance of Dec 7.

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