Good morning my dear readers. Aloha!! Yesterday was Veterans Day; I had the privilege of spending part of the day at Pearl Harbor. It is truly a solemn and humbling experience. Veterans day was an appropriate day to visit this place of honor. While the good Dr didn’t get to visit the memorial itself due to high winds; it is none-the-less a visit I will not forget.
I found my visit to Pearl Harbor…. stirring. There were pieces that are just as applicable today as they were then, almost 74 years ago. There were a couple of particular items that I saw there that really struck a chord with me, the first was a poem carried by Eleanor Roosevelt during W.W. II:
Dear Lord, Lest I continue my complacent way,
help me to remember, somehow out there, a man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must, ask and answer, Am I worth dying for?
I was very struck by this poem, which I had never heard before. I think more of our citizenry need to ask this question. For it is this nation’s veterans who pay the price; in scars both seen and unseen, for our nations citizens to be free. As a free society; we must, no we HAVE to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. I think bad behavior begets bad behavior; if we do not hold our elected officials to the highest standards – how then can the average citizen be held to their meager standard? Every citizen has the duty to be a productive member of society in their pursuit of their version of health and happiness. We each need to ask ourselves: Am I worth dying for?
After the attack on Pearl Harbor; people of Japanese heritage were “interred.” At the start of the war, there were roughly 285,000 people of Japanese heritage. Of those, almost 158,000 were in Hawaii. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942 allowed regional military commanders to designate “military areas” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” This in turn allowed our government to intern over 120,000 (over 94%) Japanese living in the continental United States. Most of these people were US citizens. In Hawaii, where just over 37% of the population were of Japanese descent, only roughly 2200 (slightly over 1%) Japanese were interned. Why weren’t the Germans and Italians interred too? This is an interesting article on why the military decided to intern the Japanese.
Finally, one more thing that struck me was the Arizona memorial – even though we didn’t make it out there. There are over 1700 men still within her hull. The monument is not just a grave marker for those 1700+ men. It is a solemn tribute to all those who lost their lives, the inscription by the names of the fallen is inscribed with: “To the Memory of the Gallant Men Here Entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on 7 December 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona.”
There are a couple of small museums one can visit while waiting for your your scheduled time to visit the Arizona memorial. In one of these, there was this set of dress whites, covered in blood from a Corpsman uniform. I’ve worn dress whites, they are hard to keep clean. I can only imagine the chaos, confusion, and frustration that this man was dealing with as he was trying to aid his fallen shipmates and fellow service members. This display really hit home with me, I’m not sure why – but this was one of the most pointed displays to me.
Since I’m in Hawaii, I think I should keep with this theme. Daniel K. Inouye, The famous Senator from Hawaii was of Japanese heritage. He served as a volunteer stretcher bearer on the date that lives in infamy. He went on to earn the Medal of Honor during the Italian campaign where he was seriously wounded. After the war; he had a very successful political career (a Democrat) and was third in-line to the Presidency when he passed. I always had (have) a great deal of respect for Mr. Inouye; I think – all things considered that if one had to have a role model – he’d be a good one. A quote from him on May 15, 2013…
I hope that the mistakes made and suffering imposed upon Japanese-Americans nearly 60 years ago will not be repeated against Arab-Americans whose loyalties are now being called into question. History is an excellent teacher, provided we heed its lessons, otherwise, we are likely to repeat them.
In a fantastic interview with NPR, Senator Inouye defined “Americanism.” Americanism is not a matter of skin or color. Americanism is what is in your heart. Americanism is not determined by race or color, but our attitude and our thoughts. Now that is a definition!
Another notable person from Pearl Harbor is Dorris Miller, a cook aboard the USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor took action. He rescued his Commanding Officer and returned fire of the Japanese. He was killed later in the war when his ship, the USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine (646 of its 918 member crew perished as a result of this attack). The USS Miller (FF-1091) was named in honor of Dorris Miller.
So, as this Veterans day passes into the books; let us remember those who have gone before – raise a glass, and toast a shipmates memory. So long as they are remembered – they live.
What say you? Are you worth dying for? If the answer is no, start doing something when you wake up tomorrow to make your life worth dying for.