Friday, December 7, 2012

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

USS Arizona Memorial
She is still there, in the same place she was on a balmy Sunday morning back in 1941. The daily routine was underway, sailors were doing the things sailors do on a quiet Sunday morning in port.

All that changed forever when aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy slid into their attack profiles. Bombs fell, torpedoes entered the water, strafing runs commenced. Americans began to die.

When it was over, a heavy pall lay over this most beautiful of islands. Death and destruction were left in the wake of the departing Japanese.

USS Arizona lay shattered on the harbor floor, most of her crew still on board. Dead on her bridge were her captain, Franklin Van Valkenburgh and the Commander of Battleship Division One, Isaac Campbell Kidd. Both of whom were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions that day.

Also awarded the Medal of Honor was Arizona's Damage Control Officer Samuel Glenn Fuqua, who survived the war and eventually retired as a Rear Admiral (Lower Half).

But she is still there, as is her admiral, her captain and her crew. Spare a thought this day for them. For the USS Arizona and the 1,102 men who still lie entombed within her. Spare a thought for all those who lost their lives that day in defense of freedom.

December 7th, 1941. Indeed a date which will live in infamy. But back then we Americans knew how to shoulder the load. We knew how to fight back with pride and with honor. We stood together in those days.

Nowadays, not so much. I pray that we are not living in a time which will live in infamy. But I think we are.


  1. What I said at The Place For Us All.

  2. I don't know anyone who fought at Pearl Harbor. Except the USCGC Taney. That cutter was actually in port Honolulu, but she engaged enemy aircraft because, well, they were attacking the general area in a promiscuous manner. And don't think my Coastie Chief dad let me forget every time we saw her because she was the last US warship that participated in the defense against the 1941 attack to be decommissioned, in 1986.

    My dad wasn't old enough to be at Pearl Harbor. He barely made it into the war, being 17 in 1945. One of his extra-curricular activities, when he wasn't doing what the Coast Guard told him what to do, was take pictures of the graves of family friends so they could get an idea of how and where they were buried. He was there, the other families needed to know, so his parents asked him. Cheerful.

    Then I spent 20 years in the Navy operating in the same territory my dad did, and his friends who died.

    Are we still on watch for the same country they died for? If we're not, why are they under my keel?

    1. I often wonder if we're on watch for the same country that our forebears made, then fought and died for. My motto is to soldier on, keep one's weather eye open and pray. There are still a lot of good folks out there worthy of our efforts and our sacrifices. Let's not forsake them because of the crazies.

    2. I don't think I'll forsake them.

    3. You and me both. But I think we need to standby for heavy rolls.

  3. When anyone gives me a load of crap about our dropping the nukes on Japan I always remember two things: the malicious surprise attack on this infamous date and the fact that my dad, who was 26, was drafted along with 1000s of other guys in March of 1945 to be a part of the invading force should Truman have not decided on the bomb. I've read that those nukes saved over half a million GI's lives and I know it made a major statement to anyone thinking about attacking us again as we were on Dec. 7, 1941.

    1. My Dad had just turned 17 in the summer of '45. He dropped out of school to join the Army, where his two older brothers were already serving. Had that war lasted longer, it is very possible that my Dad would have wound up in the Pacific instead of occupying Berlin. Not a stretch to think that he and perhaps one or both of my uncles might not have come back.

      And like I said it a post earlier this year, if you're going to go to war, then go to war dammit. Leave nothing on the table, hit the enemy so damn hard that he'll never bother you again. Nor will others.

      You hit the nail straight on the head Dan. And I'm in total agreement.

  4. My wife's maiden name is Van Valkenburgh; Franklin was her great uncle. It made visiting the Arizona a very personal experience. We found out later that my great uncle was Franklin's classmate at the Academy.

    1. Wow. Kinda leaves me speechless. Your connection to Arizona is indeed very personal. Thanks for sharing that Dave. My best to you and your wife.


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