We just celebrated the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
That event, as Admiral Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy presciently said after hearing of the success of his planned attack on the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, “awakened a sleeping giant.” America entered the war and brought all of its material and military might against the Japanese Empire.
But that day at Pearl Harbor, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt so aptly put it, went down in history as a “day of infamy.” In a matter of a couple of hours, a massive air attack by Japanese fighter bombers and torpedo planes killed 2,335 and wounded 1,143 Americans.
The Battleships of the Pacific fleet were all sunk or badly damaged in the harbor that day. The USS Arizona took the worst of it. Most of those who died that day, went down with the Arizona and remain there to this day.
The following video is not about that day, but about those who were there, those who survived and who now, in death, wish to be buried with their shipmates, to rest there with those they knew, and with the ship that they had known and loved so well.
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The survivors of the USS Arizona that day, and of WWII, would go on to live long and productive lives and become known to us all as the “Greatest Generation,” But they would never be able to forget that day, or their fellow shipmates that remain entombed within her hull.
All combat veterans understand the hole that remains in the heart and the sense of loss that never leaves us for those we fought with, our brothers and sisters who fell in foreign lands so far from home and did not come back with us.
For many, that sense of loss is never diminished. The life-long desire to be with them again is strong and enduring. And so it has been for over 30 of the Pearl Harbor survivors of the USS Arizona.
This video is about the burial ceremonies that are provided for those survivors of the USS Arizona who wish to have their remains buried with their old shipmates in the sunken hull of their old battleship that lies underneath the gleaming white building of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It is a very moving video revealing the immense respect and honor that the National Park Service and the United States Navy give to these men who are going down to the sea for the last time.
I believe I read recently that the Pearl Harbor Memorial ceremonies held this past December 7th will be that last one to have WWII, Pearl Harbor survivors in attendance. The Greatest Generation is fading fast. We must never forget what they did.
Yes, a sleeping giant awoke that day 77 years ago, and was borne up on the winds of war. WWII was a cataclysmic event stretching across the whole of the world. These men were just some of those who stood up before the forces of tyranny and defeated it at great cost.
The Veterans Site offers its deepest respect to all of our remaining WWII veterans. We honor the courage, the commitment to freedom that you modeled for us in your wartime and your long peacetime efforts. You made us a great nation. We are forever in your debt.
For those who lie beneath the waters of Pearl Harbor, and those who have been buried there since the opportunity was made possible for them to do so back in the early 1980s we say: Rest In Peace good sailors. May you now know only fair winds and following seas.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.