I had meant to write this post earlier; in conjunction with the actual date in history; which was just a few days ago.
"Yesterday, December 7th 1941, was a day that will live in infamy..." were the words once uttered by the then US President, Franklin D Roosevelt following the shocking awakening from the sudden attack on the United States' naval base in Hawaii by swooping fighter jet planes from the heights of the skies where lights were just starting to seep in, to call it a brand new day. That day was one which altered the course of the history of the United States as the laughter and peace resonating from naval quarters the night before were loudly and unexpectedly interrupted and in its place, cries of agony and desperation as chaos broke out with the deafening and fiery explosions everywhere; stripping the once glorious base into shards of destruction.
There was no place to hide; as the fighter jets swooshed in and low, dropping bombs and missiles furiously; crashing into the unsuspecting camps and claiming young promising lives of the soldiers, ripping them of their vows to defend their beloved country. There was no mercy, as was in war; and there was no hope to even utter let alone plea for their own lives. The drastic move by the Japanese left the naval base of Pearl Harbor in shatters and unrecognizable as they come aggressively in squadrons of fighter jet planes; one by one; one after another and stopping at nothing until all is gone. The aircraft smartly lined, and the battleships proudly bobbing in the sea - signs of the might of the United States defense were destructed beyond recognition.
The devastating incident was the infamous Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese in 1941; which was also the igniting event which sparked off the fury of the United States in stepping up her declaration of war to strike back at the bold Asian country which challenged the authority and pride of a large country known to be the leader of the world.
Pearl Harbor remains a remnant of that painful memory and serves as a reminder to the Americans and the world, of vigilance and patriotism, at a hefty cost.
It matter not if one is an American of birth, as this event is not one which pertains the nationality or patriotism but rather, the cruelty to humanity and compassion as a whole. It was so heart-breaking to be standing on the grounds where once many have lost their lives. Though the place had since been cleared and undergone the process of beautification to restore the glory of its name and purpose in the history of the United States of America, it is still one which brings one to solemnity as one stand on its grounds. It is as if one could still feel the tremors from the bombings of yesteryear, and also the anxiety seems to be creeping in at the thought of the possibility of droppings from the clear skies.
Those were my exact sentiments as I was on the grounds of this historic place - waves of sadness and pain rushed to fill my veins and mind as I walked through the place; imagining the chaotic scenes which once took place on the grounds.
I am no psychic, but I am pretty sure most of the visitors find themselves being overwhelmed by that rush of emotion as they look at the memorials erected to remember the fallen soldiers who have fought bravely to defend the country's honor despite their fears and anxieties of not being able to return to their loved ones. They have lost their lives, and they have lost hopes of being reunited with their families, in the most tragic and excruciatingly painful way imaginable.
It would be heartless not to be able to have this sense of emotion as one is reminded of the tragedy on location.
Although I was on my honeymoon at the point when I was visiting, I was honored to be able to take a walk down the historic grounds and pay my respects to the courageous soldiers who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor tragedy.
The once important naval base of defense for the United States of America is now a memorial museum, inviting visitors to take in that bit of America's past and take during the World War II period. Sequence of events are displayed on marble stones; engraved with the etchings of yesteryear as images of the tragedy flash before visitors' eyes.
Models of the former battleships were also residents; with some being converted into museums
A walk down memory lane as one takes each step on the grounds of Pearl Harbor; taking in the memorial stones, the models of the missiles, aircraft, battleships and the engraving of the events on the stones.
While taking in the nostalgic journey, the memorial museums should not be missed as they have three huge halls for the details on the Pearl Harbor bombings and also the aftermath and the effects on the residents of Oahu. Take in the stories and the painful revelations of the Japanese residents of Oahu at that time and how they were victimized for their fellow countrymen's atrocious attacks on the peaceful neighborhood and provoking the fury of the nation.
Two main highlights of Pearl Harbor has to be in the screening of a short film detailing the attack on Pearl Harbor in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theatre, and also the onboard tour of the ill-fated USS Arizona.
While emotions were already heavily forming inside my heart during my tour on foot around the premises, the short film (approximately 25 minutes, if I remembered correctly) invoked those emotions once again and tugged strongly at my heartstrings and my eyes. I could not hold back my tears as I watched in horror and despair at the blazing tragedy unfolding before my very eyes.
I felt like I was momentarily transported back to the day in 1941, and anguish and overwhelming sadness just came over me that it was almost inexplicable; to describe the effects the short film had on me. As the lights came on, I realized I was not the only one as women around me were also seen leaving the theater teary-eyed.
It was a heart wrecking period to endure the shattering of lives taking form in digital pictures before our eyes, and I must say that it left an everlasting and profound impression in my mind.
It is human compassion to feel for the victims, and I could totally empathize the rage and fury of the citizens following after as they hear of the news that Pearl Harbor had fallen.
The other interesting tour would be the onboard tour of the USS Arizona, the battleship which was destroyed beyond hopes of salvation during the attacks. Parts of the ships were maintained and the remains of the ships are left in its sunken state on the ocean floor; serving as a memorial for the 1,177 crew who sank and perished along with the battleship.
Located across the sea, visitors are to take a short boat trip to be able to visit the memorial and tours are dependent on the weather condition. During winter, boat trips are halted due to the winds and unpredictable conditions which prevail for the safety of the visitors.
I have been to many memorials, and each of them has touched me in their tales of their very own past but Pearl Harbor sticks as one which left the most profound impression on me. Perhaps it was due to its widely acclaimed reputation and also the lasting effects of her historical and tragic past. It was after all, one of the prime events which lit that spark to ignite the fury of the United States of America as they declared war and vowed to bring their attackers to justice. It sparked off many more heart wrenching battles over years in many different regions of the world.
Lives were lost, cries of help and agony filled the air as battle after battle was fought around the world in the events of the World War II. Many have lost their loved ones; many have suffered the pain and drastic effects of war then which lasted until this very day.
The pain of the memories of war is not comprehensible to many; though many can say (including myself) that we know the effects of war on people and the nation.
As I take the tour around a place which holds so many painstaking and bloodshed memories, I could feel the longing of these forlorn soldiers yearning in anticipation for the day they were to return to be reunited with their loved ones and to the comforts of their homes. Yet, without warning, they were robbed of their lives abruptly in the course of a night.
I could not simply bring myself to think that such a destructive event could take place on a normal morning; or as it was said, slightly after the hours of dusk.
What could one be doing or even thinking at the final hours of their unexpected and untimely deaths?
Perhaps many things could have run through their minds, but definitely not their deaths, or their desperate fights to salvage their lives and their fellow mates nor watching people and things around them go up in flames.
Not a sight to cross anyone's mind upon opening our eyes first thing in the morning, yet, this is the very reality which hit the many people stationed at Pearl Harbor on that fateful morning in 1941.
It is true that this will be a day, forever etched in many's memories; not just in the families who lost their loved ones but also those who have heard and learnt of this historical event.
Truly, a day in infamy as it goes into part of the world's history, and stands to be a priceless lesson to be learnt and to be reminded of what once was such a world-breaking tragedy.
Letters to the Pearl Harbor survivors, who have lived to share their tragic tales and eyewitness accounts of such atrocity during the attacks.
To all the brave soldiers who have perished, you will be always be remembered by the world.
Pearl Harbor and the date December 7th will no longer be the same....