Pearl Harbor: 75 years later

“December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…”

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I knew we were going to be visiting Pearl Harbor while we were in Oahu and I really wanted Georgia to understand the history behind this tragic event. I found a few age appropriate books to prepare her and we talked about how destructive and devastating this was, not just to those present for the attack, but for the entire world.

I should have prepared myself, too. It’s impossible to walk the grounds and not feel the somber significance. It was a tumultuous and catastrophic time, from the detection and mistaken dismissal of the Japanese planes, to the loss of the men on the USS Arizona, to the survivors who lived through the terror of Pearl Harbor only to suffer the next 3 1/2 years in a monumental war.

Today, we honor their heroism, their sacrifice, and their memory.

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It was our absolute privilege to meet with Sterling Cale, a survivor who had been stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attacks. I told the girls to think of a question to ask him, and Georgia asked him what he had been doing that day. He described to us how he had worked the night shift as a medic- a pharmacist’s mate, to be exact- and as his shift had just ended, he was leaving at 7:55 am on a sunny Sunday morning. He told us how he heard the planes and was confused; there were no drills on a Sunday. Soon, he realized what was happening and he broke into the armory (for which he was written up) and started distributing rifles. Later, he and 10 others retrieved 46 bodies of fallen soldiers from the water.

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To review the history and events surrounding the December 7th attacks on Pearl Harbor, I found these two resources which relayed a lot of the same information we came across at the Memorial.

Stephanie

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