-by Mary May Larmoyeux– When I was a child, to me Pearl Harbor Day was little more than a national observance —a notation on the calendar. But that wasn’t the case for my mother. She would think back on the event that ushered the United States into World War II with emotion.
I remember Mom sitting on the couch, talking briefly about the day that transformed the lives of “the boys” and our nation. She knew the faces of so many families who were changed forever on December 7, 1941. And one of those families was my own.
My dad enlisted in the Navy not long after Japan attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2300 Americans.
The Sinking of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941
“The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed,” says the Library of Congress, “and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others damaged.”
Today there are few living living survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack. One of the last, Eldon Baxter, died on December 4. His funeral will be on the 76th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 2017.
“My parents got notified by the Department of Navy that I’d been killed in action,” he told Quad-City Times reporter Barb Ickles. “They had a funeral for me. Three of us from the area were in the newspaper, and the story said we’d been killed.”
Observing Pearl Harbor Day
As an adult with grown children and grandchildren, Pearl Harbor Day means much more to me now than it did when I was a little girl. It stands for an event that impacted the world and countless families. And it reminds me not to take freedom for granted … to thank God for every day He gives to me and my family.
Seventy-six years ago, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that December 7, 1941 was “a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Roosevelt’s words have proven right. And as we observe Pearl Harbor Day, may we not forget “the boys” who gave so much because of what happened on December 7, 1941. They did this so we could be free today.
Yet the freedom they fought for is not promised to us tomorrow. Abraham Lincoln once said: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Photo credit: Collection of Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallin, USN(Retired), 1975. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Washington, DC.
Copyright ©2017 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.