December 07, 2005

Pearl Harbor: 64 Years Later... Have we forgotten?

This rather disturbing headline caught my attention this morning --- let us not confirm their fears: Veterans worry day is being forgotten.

[...] The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese made Dec. 7, 1941, as FDR said in that famous radio broadcast, "a date which will live in infamy."

Fred Hess used to think that was so, but these days he's worried that the president was wrong. He's afraid that the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor soon will go unremarked and unremembered.

"It's mind-boggling to me that so many kids don't even know about Pearl Harbor and what it was and what it meant," said Hess, 78, as he sat in Jack Hanna's Newport barbershop working out the last details for today's annual memorial service.

It's one of the few Pearl Harbor celebrations in Delaware today. In contrast, Americans gather by the thousands on Sept. 11, a tragedy that is fresher in the minds of most. Comparisons with 9/11, though, bother some WWII veterans who point out that the terrorist attacks of 2001 did not thrust the United States into a two-front war for survival.

Pearl Harbor, they argue, was a more seminal moment in U.S. history.

"We have to keep this going. If we give it up, who's going to carry it on? Who's going to take the time to remember that this was a world event, not just one involving the United States?" Hess said. "No young people seem to want to carry this on, to replace us, so we keep doing it. Someone has to do it."

[...] Hanna, who has helped Hess coordinate the Newport Pearl Harbor ceremony for the past 32 years, said he, too, is worried that there will come a day when no one pays tribute to those who died that Sunday morning.

"We can't forget Pearl Harbor, but I'm afraid that we might. At one time we had some young people from some of the schools helping us out with the ceremony, and they didn't even know what Pearl Harbor was," Hanna said. "That's so sad."

[...] Tom Daws, the state president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said the task of keeping alive the memories of significant events such as Pearl Harbor Day and the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy is becoming one that his generation must now shoulder.

"History dictates that we would never forget Pearl Harbor Day because, today, they don't teach that part of American history in the schools," said Daws, a former Marine.

"We haven't forgotten Pearl Harbor Day and I don't think that the future generations of warriors coming home will either. The general public might not remember, but those who served always will," he said.

Posted by Kyer at December 7, 2005 12:57 PM | TrackBack