Remember Pearl Harbor
Today marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and US entry into the Second World War. Sadly we are quickly approaching the time where we no longer have living survivors and Pearl Harbor may gradually become an abstract historical event rather than a true harsh experience.
Whenever I think of the attack I am reminded of one of the more impressive stories of the day. At the time the attack began ships all over the harbor were in the process of rendering the colors for the day. On the USS Nevada the ship’s band had gathered on the deck to play the national anthem
They were just starting to play when the attack began, and every normal human instinct would be to run. After all they were standing there on an open deck with planes strafing targets all over the harbor.
But that is not what happened. For the men of the Nevada (and indeed for the men of every ship in the harbor) once you began playing the anthem you did not stop. You continued to play until it was over and if you were not playing you were standing at attention.
To be fair it was, according to witnesses, one of the fastest versions ever played, but they finished before breaking for cover.
Nearby more than 1,000 men of the USS Arizona barely had time to respond to the fight before they were struck down in a deadly inferno.
On other ships, men in flooding compartments remained at their stations because they knew doing so would save the lives of others, or would keep the weapons firing.
Pilots on the ground raced through enemy fire to reach their planes in an attempt to offer some defense for those on the ground.
One man stood his ground and continued to fire on the enemy despite being wounded repeatedly.
These are obviously but a few of many stories of bravery on that December day, and indeed as we remember the heroes of 1941 we should not forget the heroes of 2011.
The key of course being that we always remember.