"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
For this week’s Photo Friday I thought it fitting to do a full post about the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Honor the fallen. Never forget.
FDR’s statement that this date would live in infamy was prophetic, I think even beyond his own reckoning. So many Americans rose from their beds today and were reminded of an event that drew their nation into the Second World War, an event that shaped world economies, that affected millions across the globe.
Early on, I developed a fascination with WWII history because of how pivotal it was for the world. Nations divided, new nations formed, the romance of big bands, the horror of the Holocaust – to see such triumph, turmoil, patriotism, nationalism, and turmoil – it created a juxtaposition that I still study with interest and I hope to learn my own lessons from the past. Pearl Harbor held a particular interest for me because it launched this nation down a path, and the world was never the same again.
On a family vacation to Oahu, I got my wish. After we entered the Pearl Harbor Memorial, we watched a film that gave us a synopsis of the events leading to the attack and footage from the battle itself. It was hard to imagine that beautiful, blue, and warm, Oahu sky being marred by billows of black smoke, ears ringing from torpedo blasts, and the terrifying whine of Zeros overhead. A feeling of subdued anxiety came over me as we lined up to be ferried out to the Memorial that spans with width of the submerged U.S.S. Arizona.
The Memorial was quiet inside, despite it’s cavernous high ceiling. The pristine white walls seemed to demand a respect for the fallen who rested below our feet. There were windows on the sides to view the length of the rust-ridden Arizona we bridged and portholes to see directly below us too. Oil slicks dotted the water’s surface, Tears of the Arizona, a slow leak from the battleship’s engines that has continued since she sunk.
A wall at the far end of the memorial was etched with the names of the fallen. Seeing the names of brothers, fathers, cousins all marked out one after another made my heart ache for the mothers, sisters, wives, and children who lost so much too. We learned that none of the men that perished in the sinking Arizona have been removed from her steel bowels. They were left to rest with their fallen brothers in arms and the battleship serves as their honored graveyard. It was a sobering thought as we looked into those briny depths.
Somber as it was, I still found hope in that place. There was the reminder that this attack wasn’t the end. Our nation still stands. The American flag snapping in the breeze overhead reminded me of that. In death there is renewal and life. There are people like my brothers and I who long to honor the fallen, to tell their stories, to learn from history, and to bring hope.
This day lives in infamy because the people of this nation, and so many other nations around the world, chose to move forward but never forget the past.