A date which will live in infamy...I had the opportunity to have breakfast with two survivors of the USS Arizona (BB-39), which was sunk in the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
It's no wonder these men are referred to as memebers of the "Greatest Generation".
I have always been amazed and impressed by how those men handled the largest war in human history. Their dedication, selflessness, committment, and sense of duty set the bar for all who followed them in service to our nation. They endured a life in the military that makes the worst days we have in modern times pale in comparison...submariners of that time were depth charged, pilots flew into combat with absolutely none of the technology we take for granted, surface sailors lived, worked, and fought in conditions that few of us in modern times could even imagine. And yet when you talk to these veterans what comes through is an overwhelming sense of duty and dedication. They only saw a job that had to be done, and they simply did that job. They saw nothing remarkable about it...it is an ingrained trait, it seems. Their remembrances were of the comraderie and dedication to their shipmates, with barely a mention of hardship.
The stories they tell are amazing. What we only know from history books and poor Hollywood attempts to depict they lived. And sadly (yet inevitably) time is taking it's toll. Most Pearl Harbor surviviors are in or nearing 80 years old. There are fewer than 20 Arizona surviviors, and the youngest is 82. It will not be long before their first-hand experience is lost to us.
Yet it seems sometimes that our more recent generations are not interested. It's sad, sometimes, that there are not more people interested in hearing their stories and learning from their experiences.
Today, December 7th, 2006, is the 65th anniversary of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Take a moment to remember the sacrifice of the Greatest Generation, and if you ever get the chance to talk to one of these vets, do so. It's a unique experience.
Technorati Tags: Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941, Veterans, WWII, History
(Crossposted to The Online Magazine Formerly Known As Rob's Blog)