"Where are the ponies?" you ask. They have the day off.
Seventy years ago today, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked forces of the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor with devastating results.
Although there was much that led up to the attack, and a great deal of controversy and conspiracy theory surrounds what happened before, during and
after, on this day I remember the 2,403 of my countrymen who died and 1,247 who were wounded.
This is a photograph taken from a Japanese plane taken shortly after the attack began:
While several different units of the U.S. Army and U.S Coast guard participated in active combat and took casualties on that day, the primary targets
of the attack were the ships of the U.S. Navy.
As long ago as it was, in the minds of most Americans it is more the stuff of old war movies than reality, but as a sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor
for four years, I was constantly reminded of the significance of that day and the terrible war that followed.
When our submarine left from and returned to the harbor, we would always pass within sight of the memorial. As one of the (lucky, because we were
always last in and first out into the fresh air) who had line handling duty, I was able to see it each time we left and returned.
Although it was not expected or required (at least at that range), on those days, and later passing more closely on utility and passenger boats, I
always made a point of saluting the memorial. Looking around at my fellow sailors in their dungarees, I always felt a sense that we were no different
than the 1,177 Arizona
crew members who died that day, and the 1,102 of them who remain entombed aboard the ship on which they served.
This is how it looked seventy years ago:
That is the sight of 1,177 of my fellow sailors, my fellow Americans, dying. And over a thousand more died that day as well.
In the ensuing war between the Allied powers and the Axis nations, tens of millions of our fellow human beings were brutally killed, and tens of
millions more injured and scarred in both body and soul. Over twenty million people died in the Pacific War alone, and it saw some of the fiercest and
deadliest battles of World War II.
Included among them were tens of thousands of my fellow sailors, many of whom died in service aboard the 52 submarines which were lost, or as the
memorial at Subase characterizes it it, and which bears the names of their crew members, "Still On Patrol".
I thank God I was never involved in combat, but what I saw when I was stationed at Pearl Harbor, from the memorials to the ceremonies to personally
seeing the pitted tracks of Japanese machine guns on the concrete tarmac at Ford Island, will always be with me.
In the four years I was there, I passed near but could never bring myself to go aboard and visit the memorial itself. Despite the many years which had
passed before I ever joined the Navy, it still hit too close to home.
I took my avatar for the day from this picture:
I want it to show not just the memorial, but the ship itself. Although it, like all things, will eventually pass away and be forgotten, it still
remains, and I want to remember it.
As an anime fan, I have had the privilege of learning more and more about the Japanese people, who I unconditionally respect, admire and love. I have
learned more about how they feel about that day, what it was like to be Japanese during the time of the Empire, how there was indeed much resistance
that we don't tend to hear about, that thousands of Japanese were arrested, tortured and killed for daring to protest against their government, and
how, just like everyone touched by it, they were helpless victims of the insanity of war.
I bear them and no one any animosity or ill will. Though I never went aboard, I saw thousands of Japanese tourists visit the memorial and bow their
I have no bitterness, no blame to assign, no finger to point.
I want only to remember, and I always will.