As I walked in Central Park on Monday, I was reminded by a flag at half staff that it was December 7, Pearl Harbor Day.
When I got up this morning, I wasn't aware of the date, and I didn't see a reference to Peal Harbor Day when I did my morning online skimming of The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and the blogs I subscribe to via Google Reader. Does this mean that everyone the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has forgotten about Pearl Harbor?
As I walked back home, I thought that I should blog about my memories of December 7, so at least those who read or skim my blog will remember Peal Harbor and some of the lessons from 68 years ago.
I was nine years old on Sunday, December 7, 1941. It was before lunch on a bright, chilly winter day in Battle Creek, MI. Bobby Baker and I met on our bikes near Fremont School. I remember riding my Schwinn Classic Deluxe and that Bobby told me that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Neither Bobby nor I knew where that was or what the implications were, but I knew about the Japanese because my mother and father had scrap books of their trip to Japan in 1928 when my father worked for the W. H. Gary Company in Kansas City.
In our house we had Japanese glass flowers and a metal crane standing on a turtle's back and pictures of Japanese women in kimonos. My dad also had a trunk in the basement full of maps wrapped in wax paper.
The next Monday, the 8th, my father sent a telegram to the War Department in Washington that read something like: "I have a trunk in my basement that has complete, detailed maps of the entire telephone communication system in the Japanese Islands."
On Tuesday he got a telegram back that read, essentially: "You want your trunk get on a train to Washington, D.C. today." And he did.
My mother and I joined him in June and we spent WWII living in Alexandria, VA. My father worked in the Japanese section of G2 (Military Intelligence) in the Pentagon.
Looking back 68 years and thinking about the lonely flag flying at half staff in Central Park, I came home and Googled "flags at half staff" and discovered there are only four days during the year that it is customary to fly flags at half staff: Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15th; Memorial Day, the last Monday in May; Patriot Day, September 11th; and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7th.
In 1941 the United States declared war on the Japanese government to demonstrate that there were consequences for its terrorist, murderous behavior. We then occupied the country, disarmed it, and spent billions to help it become a world-class economic power, in part because it wasn't allowed to spend on a military presence or on defense. We did the same thing with Germany with the same result.
It occurred to me that the 30,000 troops that Obama is sending to Afghanistan should probably be taught history so they could indoctrinate the Afghans, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda on the lessons of Pearl Harbor and World War II: Attack the U.S., let us declare war and then win, occupy their country, demilitarize it, pay to rebuild it, and get rich.
U.S. troops should be armed with guns to protect themselves, hammers and saws to build schools, and a DVD player to show the 1959 Peter Sellers comedy "The Mouse That Roared" that demonstrates step-by-step how to make war on America and prosper.
Unfortunately, from what I can see, the Taliban or Al Qaeda doesn't have a sense of humor or the sense to learn from history, so they'll have to learn the lessons of Pearl Harbor the hard way.
I remember the easy way - by seeing the flag at half staff.