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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75 Years Later, We Remember

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There will be memorials and memories shared across the U.S. and beyond. In my WWII historical fiction, Twilight of Memory, the attack marked a major turning point for 22 year old Henry and his Japanese American girlfriend, Lilly. Here is the beginning of the chapter that describes some of the personal events of that day as it touched their lives in a peaceful western Colorado valley.

Chapter 3

December 7, 1941

After church services on December 7th, Henry and his family returned home from Sunday School, had an early mid-day meal, and were enjoying a quiet afternoon. Ginny was in her room writing to a friend in Denver; Mom and Dad were in the living room listening to the weekly broadcast of Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade from the University of Chicago, and Henry was in his room listening to the static-filled broadcast of the football game between the Giants and the Dodgers in New York. He would see Lilly later when they went for a late afternoon horseback ride in the foothills of the National Monument.
Henry, was leaning in to hear the description of the ‘hard hit’ by Bruiser Kinard on the 27th yard line. Suddenly, came a new voice through the static.

 “We interrupt to bring you this important bulletin from United Press. FLASH, Washington: The White House announces Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”

While Henry’s mind tried to convince him that he had heard incorrectly, the game returned to the airwaves and the play continued. Henry stood and walked into the living room.

“Mom, Dad…,” he began.

“Shh,” both parents said as they too leaned closer to their radio. Henry could hear what they were trying so hard to hear.

 “…from the air. I’ll repeat that. President Roosevelt says that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air. This bulletin came to you from the NBS news room in New York.”

As the music started once again, Henry’s Dad flipped off the radio and looked at his wife and son. For what seemed to Henry a very long time, no one said anything.

Finally, his father spoke. “God help us. We’re in it now.

Upon hearing the news a second time, Henry ran to Lilly's home. The curtains were closed. No lights were on. He could hear crying. They would not let him in.

The following day the United States' Congress declared war on Japan. Again Henry ran to Lilly's home. The curtains were closed. No lights were on. He could hear crying. Again, they would not let him in.

Suddenly America was grieving and vowing justice.

Japanese Americans were grieving and becoming fearful.  

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The United States, in turn, immediately declared war on them. The entire world seemed to be at war."

Several years ago, I spent two weeks studying at the East-West Center through the U of Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. I walked every inch of Pearl Harbor that was walkable and boated to many others. I learned the history from 'backstage' so to speak. I found my mother's childhood friend's name on the USS Arizona memorial wall, and I had lunch or dinner every day with a Dec. 7, 1941 survivor. It was an amazing, humbling experience.

Today we all remember.

My favorite of the many ship memorials:
The USS Utah.
Many of the men are still inside that rusted hull you see.

The USS Arizona, still underwater.
The Memorial sits astride the sunken ship.
Oil from the ship continues to bubble to the surface forming
beautiful, but haunting, colors in the water.


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