Dec. 7 Lesson Is … Peace
Wednesday - December 07, 2011
Dec. 7 Day of Infamy. It’s about death and explosions and black smoke and fire. It’s about an attack on our home soil that shocked our nation into war. Every year we say “Never forget,” and for that day we mean it. We spend one day remembering.
This year on Dec. 7 we again and rightly pay tribute to those who fought valiantly when the Japanese swooped in on Pearl Harbor like angels of doom. The bombs that killed and maimed thousands of our people also shattered our island innocence. As paradise burned, the land of aloha became Ground Zero.
It was personal. My father, Harold, was 8 years old at the time. He and his family lived in Kalihi.
“I was at home, standing on the garage roof, watching the planes. I couldn’t really see what was happening at the harbor, but I saw the planes in the sky. One flew right over us. And my father came running out, yelling, ‘Come down, come down!’ He made everybody all four of us kids go under the bed because it was announced that they were bombing Pearl Harbor.
“Later on, they used my school, Kalihi Kai, as a dispensary. They were bringing all the wounded over there.”
Both his parents my grandparents were Okinawan. But my grandmother was an American citizen, and my grandfather was not. Dad has no idea why the family wasn’t interned during the war.
Hawaii has another deep connection to the war. Many of the Japanese who came here to work the plantations were from Hiroshima Prefecture in southern Honshu. That means many of the Nisei soldiers who fought and died for our country had relatives living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. Another Ground Zero. Our histories come full circle, intertwined.
In 2002 we at (the old) KGMB did a television special for Pearl Harbor Day. We called it “Always Remember.” My assignment was to go to Hiroshima and cover the Peace Ceremony marking the anniversary of the bombing that leveled the city and killed 140,000 people, but ultimately ended the war. What struck me was the lack of bitterness among those who had lost mothers, fathers, children and friends to the nuclear horror. Even aged survivors of the bomb told me that everything that happened, everything they endured, had to have meaning. And their message to us was all about the horrors of war and the importance the absolute need for peace.
On Dec. 7 we were attacked. We will never forget. But we fought the war and won it. And then we rebuilt our world, forging new ties even as we rediscovered old friendships. Dec. 7 may be all about the start of a war. But in the end, it is all about the peace.
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