Remember Pearl Harbor
By GSCS(SW) Robert Cavalcante Jr. Command Senior Chief, Naval Support Activity Washington, DC.
This December 7th, as you should well know, is Pearl Harbor Day. It marks the 61st anniversary of the most devastating sneak attack against the United States Navy and also marks the official entrance of the United States into World War II. I wonít begin to quote facts or figures about the Japanese sneak attack or turn this into a dry history lesson. What I do want to show you is that though we took heavy losses, and the task of rebuilding seemed insurmountable, we survived. Thankfully, their attack wasnít perfect. They missed our fuel depot, our repair facilities and our carriers, ultimately leading to their massive defeat the following year at the Battle of Midway.
Admiral Yamamoto, who was educated in America and masterminded the plan, was heard to say after the attack ďI fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.Ē He knew firsthand of American ingenuity and witnessed her industrial might. What he didnít count on was the strength of the American heart. That heart that beat with pride every Fourth of July was the same heart that held fear as parents sent their children to war. That heart that left their girlfriends and mothers behind was the same heart that died to save its buddies. That heart that broke when it lost a son to Japanese tyranny, was the same heart that was building the weapons of war.
It is only proper that we pay respect each year to their sacrifice and remember those 2,403 Americans who died that day. But Pearl Harbor Day is not just about our losses, but also about the survivors. Itís about how that day, the torch of freedom was thrust upon a new generation destined to save the world from tyranny and become the greatest generation our nation has ever known. Today, and each day, over 1000 World War II veterans, and even some Pearl Harbor survivors will die. Their stories will not be told, except to a few close family and friends. All too many stories will die with them.
Today, as a nation once again at war, the best way we can honor those that survived is to listen to their stories, to learn from their lessons while we still can, and to find that same heart within each of us. That same heart dug out from beneath the rubble of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. That same heart that sits on watch in a ship in the Persian Gulf during this holiday season, and the same heart that breaks while their loved one is deployed. That strong and brave American heart that will fight, win and return to one day pass the torch of freedom to a new generation.
C. Michael Garverick
Naval Submarine League www.navalsubleague.com
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