Wednesday, November 30, 2011

War and Remembrance: The Pearl Harbor Incident



"Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance."
--Richard von Weizsaecker






Perhaps one of the greatest military deceptions during World War II was the Japanese invasion of the American outpost in Pearl Harbor. At exactly one week to go from now, on December 7 (December 8, Manila time), the day of infamy of what was the Pearl Harbor incident will be 70 years old. The Japanese imperial forces mercilessly attacked the island fortress while there was a negotiation between a Japanese delegation and its U.S. counterparts taking place in the White House.

The Japs did not have that blitzkrieg trademark of Germany's Hitler, but the way the Pearl Harbor was taken and destroyed caught the U.S. by surprise, paving way for the great carnage of mostly unprepared American troops. The U.S. declared war on Japan, only making the war bigger as the Pacific theater now being added shall be fought aside from the already battle-clad Europe. But the Japs celebrated too early, considering the Pearl Harbor as one of their greatest victories in a single day, while Uncle Sam gearing up for the counter-offensive the Japs would later on taste the ferocity and bitterness of the American wrath.

Right after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese bomber planes stormed the Philippine skies and dropped bombs on major cities and ports. I'm fond of history and it thrilled me each time to know/read/learn about it and how it unfolds but nothing excites me more than to hear it directly from someone who has actually became a part of it. My maternal grandfather, who narrowly escaped death from the hands of patrolling Japanese soldiers spraying him with bullets flying in all directions coming from their rifles, was always enthusiastic and, sometimes, sentimental, telling me his story. He told me that war is hell. Hell, like what U.S. civil war general Sherman was also saying, being tired and sick of it.

The Allied forces prevailed victorious. Germany was captured and Japan, flattened to its feet with two atomic bombs dropped in both Nagazaki and Hiroshima, surrendered. Millions of lives lost, buildings destroyed, and family members never seeing each other again.

The Pearl Harbor incident produced many heroes and we've grown and learned a lot from it. We must. We should. It must be remembered with a different way of looking at it. History repeats itself, but with the way it teaches/allows us to see with new eyes finally settled, for love, remembrance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and better understanding.

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