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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

THAT DAY OF INFAMY: Part 2--75th Anniversary Ceremony at Pearl Harbor

Scroll down for Part 1.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser today had an article, Telling the "forgotten story," of the 68 civilian deaths on December 7, mostly, it turns out American Japanese, all by friendly fire (anti-aircraft ordnance that exploded on the ground).

Agonizing, but I vividly recall a close-by family in Kakaako, where three children of one family lived with relatives because their parents died during one of these shellings of McCully.  Interesting that the "lucky" one stayed with a more prominent family, went to Iolani and became a high school football star.  A second son not sheltered as well became a fisherman.  This photo is of Hisao Ueno, who was killed only a few blocks from where I now live.

The 7December1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was coordinated with Japanese military strikes on the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong on December 8.  Loss of most of the bombers caught by surprise in the Philippines was particularly devastating.   Lt. Douglas MacArthur in 1903 was shot (through his hat) by guerrillas in the Philippines, but managed to kill them.  Thirty eight years later, unlike the Hawaii commanders, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short, General Douglas MacArthur somehow was not relieved of duty for being negligent, while commanding the Philippines and went on to later victory when he returned.

At 7:48 Hawaiian Time, 353 Japanese planes in two waves from six aircraft carriers in less than two hours sunk eight U.S. Navy battleships., but six were repaired and joined the war.  Scores of other ships were also badly damaged, as were 347 of the 402 aircraft on the ground.  2,403 Americans were killed, nearly half on the USS Arizona.  The Japanese lost 29 planes and five midget submarines, 64 were killed and one, Kazuo Sakamaki (right), a naval officer, was captured with his sub.

Sakamaki requested that he be allowed to commit suicide, which was denied.  He went on to live an incredible life:
  • Spent the war in prisoner of war camps on the mainland U.S.
  • Upon repatriation after the war he became a pacifist.
  • He wrote a memoir, Four Years as a Prisoner-of-War No.1, which became I Attacked Pearl Harbor in 1949.  Amazon today sells the hardback (used) for $120.
  • However, he refused to speak about the war until 1991 when he attended a historical conference in Texas, where he reportedly cried after seeing his submarine for the first time 50 years.
  • He did become president of Toyota's Brazilian subsidiary in 1969.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his Day of Infamy speech to Congress to the left.  Did the White House know of the coming attack?  Various conspiracy theories have been floated, but just the fact that all three aircraft carriers based at Pearl Harbor were not there is revealing.  Turns out that Japan naval policy featured battleships, while the U.S. view was that carriers would be the key to victory.

On December 27 President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will both participate in a follow-up program at Pearl Harbor.  Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with Abe on 27May2016, becoming the first President to do so.  The problem is that neither side wants to say I'm sorry, there will be no apologies, so society will for now need to be satisfied with respect for the heroic dead.  

My colleague at the University of Hawaii on the front page of the Star Advertiser yesterday was quoted to say:

Just the fact that they'll be there together at Pearl Harbor is historic.  Time heals.  The only lesson of war is that you want peace.

The ceremony at Pearl Harbor today featured a missing man flyover at 7:55AM (when the planes reached this location) and cutter sail by:


In addition to the usual military formalities, Hawaii was generously sprinkled into the program with Hawaii Ponoi, Kahu blessing ceremony, Aloha Oe and, even a Buddhist priest.

The keynote address was provided by Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.  Harris was born in Yokuska, Japan in 1956 of a Japanese mother who had experienced the cruelties of World War II.  His father was a U.S. Navy chief petty officer on the Lexington, an aircraft carrier with a home base of Pearl Harbor.  Harris graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and has 400 combat flight hours to his credit.

Throughout the day there will be other events:
  • 7:50AM, Atterbury Circle, Hickam Air Force Base, Attack on Hickam Field Ceremony & Reception.
  • 8AM, Marine Corps Base Hawaii Flagpole, Annual Wreath Presentation.
  • 11AM to 1 PM, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Freedom Bell Ringing.
  • Noon to 4PM, Aloha Tower Pier 9, Public Tours of the USCGC Morgenthau.
  • Noon to 1PM, Battleship Missouri Memorial, 75th Annual Pearl Harbor Mass Band (1000 student musicians) Performance.
  • 1PM to 2:30PM, USS Oklahoma (429 deaths) Memorial Ceremony, Ford Island.
  • 2PM and 4:30 PM, Block Arena, Pearl Harbor, FOX Sports Pearl Harbor Basketball Invitational, Seton Hall vs California and Princeton vs Hawaii (live broadcast on Fox Sports 1).
  • 3PM to 3:30PM, Fort DeRussy, 25th Infantry Division Commemoration Ceremony.
  • 4PM to 5:30PM, USS Arizona Memorial, Double Interment Ceremony (80% of the crew died, and is the only ship that returns cremated remains of survivors in a service attended by family and dignitaries).
  • 4:30PM to 7:30PM, Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, from Fort Debussy to Kapiolani Park, Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade and Public Ceremony (there will be a 20hour History Channel special).

You can donate to this organization, established by the National Park Service and State of Hawaii.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average will again today break its all-time record.  The closing bell is yet to ring as I post this article.

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