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Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

This day shook American history in 1941; all it took was a single moment and our lives [or those who were alive at the time, I mean] were changed forever. Those type of moments have happened throughout history and many have occurred in my 23 [almost 24] years too. But a sad sort of phenomenon occurs with all of these moments.

When Pearl Harbor was hit, everyone in America was shocked. We were attacked on our own soil, without knowing it was coming. For the following few years, life was much different than it had been before as thousands of men and women went to fight in WWII, my grandpa included. 12/7/1941 was etched into the back of their minds where it would remain forever.

Perhaps I feel more connected with this day and what occurred at Pearl Harbor because I visited the USS Arizona memorial twice while living in Hawaii, and I watched the informational video they show prior to going to the USS Arizona, and heard that horrific BOOM that shook me right in my seat. I saw the dazed faces of the men on the video as they watched smoke billow from the ship. It sends shivers through me right now as I sit here and type it. And I wasn't there. I can't imagine what it was like for those who were.

In the years since, we have experienced many natural disasters, man-created disasters, and all sorts of life-altering events in between. The sad truth of these events is that they open people's eyes for awhile. They make people stop and praise God for what they have, people pray for those affected, and they reach out if they can. This goes on for awhile. Then... life goes on. As they say, "The world doesn't stop for your grief." The world and TIME doesn't stop for anything. People carry on with their lives and the painful sights, memories, and experiences are tucked so far back in our minds, that sooner or later, we don't even think of them anymore. The good thing is that we stop living like there is a boulder on our back, and we start to maybe focus on the positive things rather than the negative and sad aspects. But the sad part is that it seems as if those traumatic experiences or times are instead, forgotten. If not forgotten, then looked over.

Very few people know that today is the 68th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. It says it on our calendars, but how often do we really read the tiny fine print at the bottom of the square where our dentist appointment reminder is written? I am absolutely guilty of this phenomenon, like the rest of America is. Anniversaries of days like Columbine or Virginia Tech pass without recognition or acknowledgement unless I read it on the computer or hear it on the news. I forget. It doesn't mean I don't care, but I just have almost forgotten. That makes me sad because for the families of those who lost loved ones, they don't ever forget. They can't ever forget. Those days will reopen their wounds every year when the anniversaries of those tragedies pass.

Today, a large part of those directly affected by Pearl Harbor aren't alive anymore. There are still some who were there, who's loved ones were there, or who fought in the war that followed. I know that for them, they feel emotions today that they don't feel on other days. I saw the flags at half-mast driving through town today and I felt not only sadness for those who never saw past 12-7-41 and their families who were left to carry on, but I felt happiness that we still acknowledge it, for those who were there. I feel though, that as a general public, most of us carry on today without knowing or realizing that it is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most people haven't been to the memorial, they don't know someone directly affected, and the closest tie they have to that day was watching the movie.

So I want to ask any of you reading this to pause for a moment and remember. Remember those who's last memories were the huge blast on 12-7-41. Remember those who sacrificed it all for our freedom. Remember those who went to war after Pearl Harbor; both those who didn't make it back, and those who did. Remember all of those who have ties to 12-7-41. We haven't forgotten.

I noticed this same phenomenon when 9/11 passed this fall. On Facebook, lots of people had statuses ringing the same tune: 'never forget.' As I read then though, I noticed that all of those people who posted them [aside from one or two] were people who were either in the military themselves, or people who are married to someone in the service. I found it a little sad that those who remembered were those in the military. Those who didn't have military ties had typical everyday statuses about their cars, school, work, famous people... whatever we post about on a typical day. But on that day, I felt like there should have been more people remembering. It had been 8 years, but still... it happened and for one day, we should remember. That is my wish. That in another 60 years, people still remember what happened on 9/11/01. That people don't forget.

We haven't forgotten.

Pearl Harbor 12.7.1941

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