Friday, December 07, 2007

Our Turn

They say the small trickle of oil which still rises from the wreck of the USS Arizona are the tears of its lost crew. The distance between December 7, 1941 and today is just 10 years short of the gap between that day and the end of the Civil War. The light streaming from the memory of that generation has faded to the dimmest of glows. It no longer casts a shadow; we no longer feel the tears. Today some of their descendants are more concerned with the threat posed by the Arizona's two quarts of oil per day to the environment than to recalling the danger the ship itself helped guard against so long ago.



We are sweeping the attic of memory. The old black and white photos have given way to sentimental Ataris the way the blue kepis once yielded to the Victrolas. The time, even of the Arizona's ghosts, is ending now. Some of us still keep watch by night for the few that come, never knowing if they will be the last. And upon a time we will wait, the cup of coffee in its customary place, sitting where we have always sat, ready to listen to the old stories; and they will not come again.

11 Comments:

Blogger Wretchard said...

I think the immediate postwar generation's extended childhood was possible because it lived in the penumbra of the Greatest Generation's mighty deeds. But soon the Boomers will truly be orphaned by the passage of time without the psychological consolation of knowing that the old home, so rarely visited, still stands.

12/07/2007 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

This is "The Soldiers," written by 12-year-old Amy Allison:

There they go, off to war,
Leaving loved ones, whose hearts are sore.
Children weep in their mothers' keep,
As they hear their fathers' leaving feet.
Wives and mothers cannot speak,
Watching them leave makes them feel weak.
But, they know they must be strong,
For they might hear the bells toll,
Dong, dong, dong, dong,
And sincerely hope that they are wrong,
That their beloveds, whose love they've won,
Will return to them when all is done.

I noticed I was the only one on the block flying a flag today. How soon we forget.
Honor Pearl Harbor Day. Thanks for remembering...

12/07/2007 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Larry Miller, the comedian and writer said: "When I see a bumper sticker that says 'No More Hiroshimas' I wish I had one that said 'You First, No More Pearl Harbors'"

I recall the 50th Pearl Harbor Anniversary observances. I recall that Pres G.H.W. Bush wept at the ceremony - and that there were those that thought less of him for that - and they are many of the same people who constantly call for "sensitivity and compassion."

I also recall a statement made by a American TV news reporter during those observances. He was in Japan and when asked about the attitude toward 7 Dec 1941 he said that the Japanese feel no special shame about that attack - it was simply one of the things one did in a war. But the reporter also said that the Japanese seemed to acknowledge no connection between the events of 7 Dec 1941 and those of 6 Aug 1945. The Pearl Harbor attack was just another air raid in a war and the attack on Hiroshima was regarded as a terrible tragedy, along the lines of an earthquake or typhoon - they saw no linkage.

“You first” indeed…

12/07/2007 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Shakespeare penned these words nearly two hundred years after the Battle of Agincourt. So perhaps may be someone in the future will do the same for those that fought and died on that day so that it will forever live in infamy. "This story shall the good man teach his son" It is up to us to pass along the stories of the past to our children, they onto theirs, and so on. Otherwise the ghosts of the Arizona will truly be forgotten.

12/07/2007 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm all for celebrating the Greatest Generation and even my own rock n' roll hesitant warriors in Southeast Asia, but let's shed a tear for the lads in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan now fighting the fascists in headscarves pouring out of the Pakistani frontier.
Read Sebastian Junger's piece in Vanity Fair"Into the valley of Death".
It's linked on Realclearpolitics.com.

12/07/2007 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Its been three years since my dad died. From time to time throughout his adult life he told tales of his experiences in New Guinnea the Phillipines during WWII and in Japan just afterwards . And then a couple years later in Korea -- above and below the 39th parallel -- . His last assignment was in the pentagon when the vietnam war protesters came calling to tell him that the course of american history would be away from anything he would call home. After awhile he stopped feeling like a first class citizen in the washington dc area. That didn't come until he visited his home county in Pennsylvania. He had a knack for doing the right thing in the right way at the right time--something that better than half his 7 children have been able to emulate. He lived a full life. In his study was a picture of him as a teenager in central Pennsylvania holding two horses by their halters on the farm where he grew up. In the months before he died he watched on tv the Mars rovers tool about the planet's surface. His remark was this: "I can't believe I'm living to see this." He talked with members of his family in the hospital in the hours before he died. He died at 86.

The real issue for the USA going into the 21st century is one of sovereignty.It is as profound as the civil war of the 19th century.

imho what needs to be understood by people of other nations is that the more American sovereignty is diminished -- the more the people from other nations are diminished.

everyone but everyone the world over needs to keep track of the chicanery of their elites because we are experiencing again the sort of miracle technological change in the 21st century that started off the 20th century and emboldened the communists. It is not communists this time. Its is globalists.

12/07/2007 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kurgan said...

Wretch,

Fix bayonets!

We have forgotten. We have forgotten then and we have chosen to ignore now.

Our prosperity seems to be our worst enemy right now, doesn't it.

History tells us that we are witness to some of the most successful actions in the history of warfare, yet we remain unconvinced.

We are one face-spit away from repeating the same misguided conclusions we made in Vietnam.

If we are faced with a free fire assault from all sides, why are we god damned optomistic?!

We are and we will be. We are optomistic because we know that our people are there; awake while we sleep.

We will be okay.

Kurgan



http://ipostyoudecide.blogspot.com

12/07/2007 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

Though I find the lack of understanding about their (rather recent) ancestor's culpability in WWII frustrating, I wonder if it's not ultimately for the better.

Contrast Japan and Germany. The Germans can't stop apologizing for Hitler. They're so damn busy apologizing for WWII, they can't pitch in against today's enemies without racking themselves with so much guilt, the rest of us write them off and go on without them.

Japan, on the other hand, refuses to accept responsibility for Tojo, but is quite willing to fight against his modern ilk. Japan also is less eager than Germany to engage in counter-dependant diplomacy.

Extended childhood perhaps for the German post-war generations as well, afraid to take on the responsibilities of adulthood lest they pervert them as their fathers did.

I'm willing to let the sins of the fathers be buried with the mortal remains if it allows the sons to live as adults and not perpetual teenagers.

12/08/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger Appalachian said...

I think Charles has it right. Many are focused on the dangers of Islamofascism, but globalism is the greater danger. One sees the willful blindness of many westerners to the obvious dangers posed by Islamofascism. What does this tell us about the likelyhood that the dangers of globalism will be understood, and fought?

To the globalist, patriotism is nativist bigotry. A desire for sovereignty reactionary at best, fascist at worst.

A couple of generations ago, most on the left saw the USSR that was pointing the way to the bright future of social justice and peace. Now it is globalism that is the path to a green, just, and prosperous world. But unlike the situation in the '20s and '30s, it is not just intellectuals and activists who think this way. It is now the bulk of respectable opinion. It is your aunts, your uncles, your children's teachers, your coworkers. It is not often articulated in plain terms, but the assumptions of globalism are pervasive. Manifestations of this mindset are everywhere. Why is it that NBC won't run advertisements thanking American troops for their service? Bush hatred is no doubt part of it, but I think the main thing is that, to many NBC executives, the whole idea of a US military is offensive. There should be no US military, really, just UN peacekeeping forces. Anyone wishing to pay NBC for time to give thanks to UN peacekeeping troops would be well-received, no doubt.

Remembrance of the sacrifices made by the men of the Arizona is not merely passe, then, but reprehensible, as is anything that serves to reinforce a sense of national purpose or identity.
We are a global people now, and nationalism is to be equated with fascism.

The likelyhood of changing this course seems small at the moment. A society that won't recognize the dangers of Islamofascism, or even call it by its right name, seems unlikely to come to see the dangers in such things as the Law of the Sea Treaty. Come 2009, we will see how quickly the coming globalist ascendency can take us down that road. I'm afraid we may find ourselves, before too long, like the British, facing signature of "the final treaty", denied even the opportunity to vote on whether to give up the right of self-government, won with such a heavy price over such a long span of history. But one should push for the right course whether one has the wind at one's back or not. And the weather may change.

dmayes

12/08/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Our prosperity seems to be our worst enemy right now, doesn't it.

Prosperity, in and of itself, isn't the enemy. After all, how can mere material things bring about our downfall? It is our attitude toward properity that is so maleficent. I refer to the overweening sense of entitlement encountered among so many of the Boomers and younger generations. They act as if all of this was manna from heaven that no one had to do anything for.

Evidently, very few realize the enormous sacrifices made to ensure a free society that can be so productive. Instead, we are now greeted by the hideous spectacle of America's fascination with unearned wealth (the lottery) and unmerited fame (celebrities). Few better examples exist than the television show, "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire". Easy money, being granted by a nebbish whose only claim to fame is being famous.

One of my favorite cartoons depicts Regis Philbin at the Pearly Gates sitting in front of a desk facing Saint Peter. Saint Peter is leaning across the desk and asking him, "Is that your final answer?" One can only imagine that Saint Peter just asked Philbin how he made this a better world.

I'll certainly admit that our prosperity has made it far too easy to forget the lessons of World War II. Few people seem to remember the importance of fighting fascism, in all its forms. Least of all do they seem to realize how globalism represents one of fascism's ultimate manifestations.

Anyone who truly considers globalism to be viable needs to examine the UN very carefully. No better example exists of what to expect from a "world without borders".

12/08/2007 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I think a sensible patriotism is measure the capacity to love. We have no other test of man's capacity to be a good neighbor other than his neighborliness.

Few of us who will be called upon to suffer for "all mankind"; but nearly every human being will challenged at some point in their lives to sacrifice something for the sake of the people they love.

If globalism thinks love of country or family to be such narrow emotions; ones unworthy of their effort, how should we know they are the altruistic persons they claim to be?

12/08/2007 09:54:00 PM  

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