I have a brother who serves in the U.S. Coast Guard. For three years he was stationed in at the Barber’s Point Air Station on Oahu, Hawaii. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to visit paradise in January 2006. Though the beaches and scenery were spectacular, it was the visit to Pearl Harbor that left the biggest impression on me.
The history lessons and Hollywood movies painted a picture in my mind, but actually visiting the site where so many American service men and women lost their lives moved me beyond words. The experience was profound.
So today, on the70th anniversary of the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt so fitting decreed “a day that will live in infamy,” I reveled in the many accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor published in virtually every newspaper in the country. So many of those papers delivered to their readers unique and localized stories related to the events of that day. It made me wonder how many LMU stories could be linked to that one event in history. My interest was piqued enough that I sought out my favorite historian to provide some information.
Dr. Charles Hubbard, professor of history and Lincoln historian, never fails to deliver. Our discussion eventually got to the stories of LMU graduates at Pearl Harbor, but not before he reminded of one of the most somber and striking stories of the U.S.S. Arizona.
If you have or ever will visit the U.S.S. Arizona memorial you know or will see pretty quickly what I mean. No tourist destination, this National Park which is supervised by the same National Park Service that manages the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, is a memorial. The mood can only be described as somber. The day we visited was gloriously sunny with few clouds to dull the sunshine and yet there was no joy in our visit.
The reverent boat ride over to the U.S.S. Arizona memorial site was the chilling as you pass sunken ships and can clearly see oil that continues to come to the surface some 70 years later. At the Memorial itself, there is a great marble wall with the names of the one we have lost engraved. Toward the bottom is another set of names set off on their own. A tour guide explained to me how they are survivors who chose to have their remains entombed with their fellow shipmates.