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irishcooper

Pearl Harbor Day

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I will always remember Pearl Harbor (even if I wasn't born until 28 years later). And I hope to one day get the chance to visit the memorial.

About ten years ago I was in college and was taking an English course. I was quite a bit older than most of my classmates (after high school I spent two years in the Army and then took some more time after that to "figure out what I wanted to do"). The professor made an announcement that the big final paper would be due on December 7th. I couldn't resist the opening and blurted out "A date which will live in infamy". The professor laughed, but I was surprised to see blank stares from the rest of the class who had no idea what I was saying. It seems like other important dates have little meaning to younger generations too (JFK, MLK, RFK assassinations, even the more recent Challenger explosion). I would like to think that this won't happen with September 11, but all signs point to more long-term memory loss...

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Young Americans, today, have such a weak knowledge of the nation's history. Some don't even have a basic awareness. And that can be very harmful to the long term health of the nation.

John Kennedy once remarked that there were two dates all Americans would remember: Pearl Harbor day and the day FDR died. He said everyone could describe exactly where they were and what they were doing.

Tragically, another date is added to that list, at least for the Boomer generation: November 22, 1963.

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Tragically, another date is added to that list, at least for the Boomer generation: November 22, 1963.

And 9-11.

I suspect many of today's college students couldn't tell you who FDR was, let alone what anybody was doing when he died.

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To paraphrase Yamamoto: "I fear we have awoken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible rage".

Smart man.

He was an interesting guy. Supposedly he said that after he realized that the Japanese attack had missed the US aircraft carriers that were out on maneuvers. Thus, the major damage was to the older battleships.

Yamamoto's prediction that the Japanese Navy would enjoy about six months of success before the tide would start to turn against them was also pretty much on the money. Yamamoto had a more realistic view of Japan's situation in a war with the U.S. than other Japanese military leaders given that he had spent a fair amount of time in the US and knew the potential of its industrial resources.

There is an interesting book about him entitled "The Reluctant Admiral" that was published in English in 1979.

Pearl Harbor was a sad event.

Interestingly, when I visited the Arizona memorial in the Spring of 1980 I was the only non-Japanese person on the shuttle boat. They were very lively on the way out but become silent when the boat approached the memorial. They bowed, left flowers and returned to the shuttle boat without saying a word. I was impressed.

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I believe Yamamoto died a courageous death at Midway. It was at Midway, I think. In any event, when his ship was hit and sinking, he strapped himself to the wheel and went down with great courage and dignity. As I recall, he was a great odds with the military rulers of Japan and opposed to making war and especially opposed to the attack on the United States.

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A nice tale but he was actually shot down:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto

Thanks for that link Bill. I hadn't heard the story about the sinking ship and Yamamoto's end at the hands of the P-38 pilots is well documented. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article indicates that the "sleeping giant" quote is apocryphal. I couldn't find it in "The Reluctant Admiral" in the section concerned with Pearl Harbor. It appears that the quote was made up for the movie "Tora. Tora, Tora." Another urban legend bites the dust!

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Perhaps I was thinking of another Japanese officer. I read that story somewhere. Sorry for the misinformation.

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This Wikipedia entry indicates that Yamaguchi, was killed in action but also notes that he chose to go down with his sinking ship. Yamaguchi It also notes that there is a legend that he and the ship's captain calmly admired the moon as the ship sank. This all seems to be a little contradictory but I suppose it is possible that he was badly wounded and decided not to be removed from the ship. Who knows?

I do remember an aphorism to the effect that the first casualty in war is the truth. I think we have recent evidence of this, IMHO. In any case, I am very impressed with the historical knowledge of the members of PTU!

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Hey John, what was that line in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"?

Ah, looked it up: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

I love that movie Mike! My wife and I have seen it several times. Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne were great and Lee Marvin as the evil Liberty Valance (he even wore a black hat) was fantastic!

There is an Irish aphorism that I know well - "There is no sense in letting a few facts get in the way of a good story." While the members of my family (especially the men) have followed this advice for several generations, I don't think it is peculiar to the Irish.

I recall a story on the news a few years ago about the Chamber of Commerce in a Japanese city orgainizing tours of the sites associated with the Madame Butterfly story. Apparently the tours were a great success and especially popluar with Japanese tourists. The CBS reporter pointed out to the CoC guide that although an American official had lived in the town for a while prior to the opera's appearence there was no evidence that he had any relationship with a local woman. The guide paused for a minute and then politely replied "Well if the story is not true it ought to be, and besides the people love it!" :D

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