The youngsters playing in High School marching bands contrasted with the aged, often-wheelchair-bound veterans they played to honor. Nevertheless, those born in 2000 and those born in the 1920’s had a common purpose: remembering the Pearl Harbor catastrophe that changed America’s role in the world to this day.
It’s been 75 years since it happened. It could have been yesterday for the veterans. Those who personally experienced it, whether in the military or as civilians, still remember: smoke, smells, explosions, bullets, fires, explosions indelibly imprinted on minds young then and old now. But always remembered. Those able to serve carried ammunition to guns still firing at the invaders. Or stood on the ground armed only with rifles or machine guns firing at the strafing bombers and fighters.
One woman, then 10 years old, had won a jitterbug contest Saturday night, 6 December, 1941. She waved at the approaching planes, thinking they were Americans. The next minute “ran for her life.” In 2016 she returned to the school she attended as a 10 year-old. She showed the teacher some of her school work, December, 1941 style. Two sisters 9 and 8 were going to drive by their housing near Hickam Field, though it had been long since demolished. Just being close to the place gave them comfort.
The responses were varied in San Diego, some terribly serious, others serio-comic. Among the serious: news reports proliferated of enemy planes over California and over San Diego, later proved false. But one guy standing outside a SDG&E building was arrested and sentenced to 29 days in jail. His crime was “loitering” near a defense center. One guy came to the San Diego police and volunteered for service—he had deserted from the Army Air Corps in 1928. Among the serio-comic: the cops kept to their work and arrested some ladies of the night for “vagrancy,” their euphemism for prostitution. Hailed before the judge, he let them go. While telling them to “avoid downtown bars and hotels”—which you can be assured they didn’t—he told them they could best serve the country by “staying out of jail and keeping busy” italics added. Since keeping busy meant only one thing to the soiled doves, they likely kept busy. The Weather Bureau couldn’t make reports for a while. The director quipped it was a blessing. Not forecasting, he couldn’t be condemned for an inaccurate forecast. (A problem even 2016 weathermen still have.) San Diego U-T, 12/7/16
One guy had news of the attack coming home from church. One woman, living in Mission Hills, had an idea it was coming. She had worked for months in a secret government department that kept track of traffic along the border. 7 December, 1941. 7 December, 2016. 75 years apart. And we still live in the shadow of that 75 year-old-event. Those experiencing it first-hand will soon be dead. But not even the babies of today will fail to be influenced by that day, and its ensuing 192 weeks.
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