A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
LIVE FROM THE ARIZONA MEMORIAL
It's Always A Strange Day Here, In Hawaii
We're majority-Japanese here, and heavily dependent upon Japan, economically. Visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor will find themselves jostled by crowds of Japanese tourists, for whose benefit the presentation has been somewhat softened. They are largely ignorant of the grisly details of World War II, and Japanese atrocities.
All they learn in school in Japan is that the U.S. was squeezing Japan's resources, and limiting her growth, unfairly. Nothing about the Bataan Death March, or the Rape of Nanjing, Korean Comfort Women or the Emperor's personal, hands-on involvement in inhuman medical experiments on unwilling, living human beings. And nothing about Pearl Harbor.
It's long shadows time, for the survivors of the attack at seven fifty-five on a fine Hawaiian Sunday morning, sixty-three years ago, at Pearl Harbor. The sugar cane was rustling in the tradewinds. A few cars rumbled along the dirt roads on their way to church. A plane flew overhead. Probably the US Army Air Force, on an exercise. Then another plane. Then a dozen more. Then the bombs started falling on the wide-open US Pacific Fleet, lying at anchor in the harbor. Then the planes began strafing the ships, the docks, the hangars, the roads, even some civilians, with machine guns.
It was the beginning of the Second World War, for America. Sixty million people would die, in the eight years of the war. Two thousand three hundred and ninety soldiers, sailors, marines and civilians died that day. The survivors come here every year, from all over the island, and all over the world, to remember their friends, killed that day.
There was quite a panic among the locals, on December 7, 1941; and for many days after. Everyone expected the Japanese to invade Hawaii. But Supreme Commander Tojo had overestimated our troop strength here, and kept his soldiers in the campaign for Indonesian oil. That's right. World Wars One and Two were about oil. Anyway, the "Japs" did not invade Hawaii.
It must have been a strange time for the local Japanese in Hawaii. They considered themselves Japanese, first. They read Japanese newspapers, full of glowing reports of the war in Asia. Many of them had sent money to Japan for the war effort in Asia. Some had even sent their own sons, to fight for the Emperor. A few acted as spies and sabateurs, keeping an eye on U.S. military bases here, and making ready for the triumphant entry of the Imperial Japanese Army, which never came.
But they lived and worked, married and had children in Hawaii, a U.S. Territory. Suddenly, they were under attack, by their own people. Immediately, they fell under suspicion, by their own neighbours. A few of the local Japanese were interned for the duration of the war. Some lost property. They were compensated, recently; an unprecedented act in a nation that has yet to come to terms with black slavery, Indian exterminations, or the huge land-grab from Mexico.
A few of the local Japanese volunteered for combat duty with the U.S. Army. Their exploits were bruited to the homeland Japanese, for propaganda purposes. There are two new memorials to local Japanese who served in the military in WWII, right in the middle of Waikiki. There are none there to any Hawaiians, many of whom have served with distinction, in every war since Hawaii's annexation by the U.S., in 1898. It's strange. Politics trumps History, every time.
The local Japanese pretty much run things here, now, in their own way, and for their own benefit. Every Pearl Harbor Day, there is a flurry of self-congratulatory news stories, locally, about the local Japanese who served in the U.S. Army in the Big One. If you grew up here, and never did any other reading on the subject, you'd think the local Japanese had won the war, single-handedly, instead of just a couple of battles, mainly in Italy. No mention is ever made of anybody else's sacrifices, here. It's strange.
My father was wounded by a Japanese bayonet in the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific. A little lower, or to the right, and I'd never have been born. I just don't see the Japanese as cute little Hello Kitty manga people who make video-games and Subarus. I'm old-fashioned that way.
You'd think the Pentagon would be, too. But they're drumming for a militarist revival in Japan, more and more. It's strange. It makes Russia, and China, and North Korea nervous. Well, it would you too, if your Mom had been raped by the Japs. Over and over again. In the middle of the street. In a crowded city. In broad daylight. While a Nazi officer tried to stop it. The Japs were the worst, really. They even shocked the Nazi's.
I bear no ill will toward any living Japanese under the age of seventy. Bygones. But I do believe that those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it, again and again. In memory of those 2,390 mostly young, mostly men, and the sixty million who died after them, let's not repeat this one. And, let's remember: The really foul thing about Pearl Harbor was that the attack was unprovoked. Like our attack on Iraq. Which has killed over one hundred thousand innocent civilian women and children, so far. Do you think they'll ever forget that, over there? Yes? Then, you must have forgotten Pearl Harbor, already.
See, it happened like this...
"War memories still stir many"
"Interview with Pearl Harbor Eyewitnesses"
"Insulting the memory of FDR"
"Film looks at low WWII isle internee numbers"
"American-born nisei and other foreign-born Japanese or Nikkeijin who also fought and died while in the Japanese military service"
"Japanese Espionage and American Counter Measures in Pre-Pearl Harbor California"
"Japan's Mass Rape and Sexual Enslavement of Women and Girls from 1932-1945: The 'Comfort Women' System"
"The Other Holocaust: Nanjing Massacre"
"Atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese army on the captured heroes of Bataan and Corregidor"
"The U.S. Colossus and the Koizumi Agenda"
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