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From USA Today. Lest we forget.

1941 attack on Pearl Harbor far from forgotten

By William Cole, The Honolulu Advertiser

PEARL HARBOR - Harold O'Connor, 88, was a Navy Fireman First Class on the USS Thornton, a destroyer seaplane tender, in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked.
"All the torpedo planes were coming right off our fantail," O'Connor recalls. "I watched the West Virginia go up from two torpedoes that were dropped. All hell was breaking loose. I saw the bombs that hit the Arizona."

That's just one of O'Connor's World War II stories from the Pacific. The Hawaii man was again on the Thornton in 1942 taking Marines to Palmyra Atoll, when the ship ran aground on New Year's Eve. There he saw two torpedoes streaming toward where he stood.

"I said, 'Goodbye world,' and I hit the deck," O'Connor said. "Nothing happened. I got up, and here come two more torpedoes. They came right under where I was standing."

O'Connor's recollections go beyond Japan's 1941 attack on Oahu and so will the new $58 million Pearl Harbor center under construction for the USS Arizona Memorial here, says Daniel Martinez, chief historian for the emerging World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

President George W. Bush set that change in motion last year when he proclaimed the Arizona Memorial and visitor center part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes nine sites: five in Hawaii, three in Alaska, and one in California at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, which was where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.

The challenge for the National Park Service, which runs the Arizona Memorial, is to expand its exhibits to incorporate the new Pacific mandate, Martinez says.

"We're at the beginning of trying to interpret how we're going to carry this out," Martinez said. "There are other ways to communicate this story besides traditional exhibits, so we're looking at ways to do it on the Web, we're looking at ways to do it through interpretive programs, we're looking at ways to do it through education."

A visitor center had been planned long before Bush's announcement. The existing facility, which was built in 1980, was sinking. It was too small to accommodate the more than 1.3 million people who visit the state's No. 1 tourist attraction each year.

Visitors who arrive today at the center for the boat ride to Kilo pier on the Pearl Harbor Navy base - where a commemoration ceremony will be held -will be greeted by a circuitous path of 12-foot chain-link fences covered in black fabric batting, a construction barrier separating older buildings still in use at the visitor center from their new replacements.

The new facility will occupy 24,000 square feet and have nearly double the current museum exhibition space, according to the Arizona Memorial Museum Association. The campuslike design spreads new buildings and shaded walkways over a much larger area than before.

"You feel kind of confined here," said visitor Shannon Howland, 50, of Seattle, who was waiting last week in the visitor center courtyard for the movie and boat trip to the memorial. "The more open they make it, the better it will be - just for the flow of people on a busy day."

Construction began about a year ago, and the first phase, which includes an education center, restrooms, a bookstore and snack shop, is scheduled to open around Feb. 16, project director Tom Fake said.

The exhibits Road to War, Oahu 1941, and Attack and Aftermath will be part of the second phase, which is to be completed by Dec. 7, 2010.

The "attack" gallery will have an 18-foot mural depicting Battleship Row off Ford Island on Dec. 7, 1941. A one-third scale model of a banking Japanese torpedo plane will be hung overhead, and the roar of passing enemy planes will be heard in the exhibit, Martinez said.

An anti-aircraft gun that came off the sunken USS Utah, a 5-foot-by-9-foot riveted slab of the USS Arizona's superstructure, and an oscilloscope showing the radar picture before the attack, also are included in the exhibit plan, he said.

Today's events for the expected 2,000 people in attendance, will include a moment of silence, a "missing man" flyover, wreath presentations, featured speakers, a rifle salute and taps. The 7:55 a.m. attack killed 2,390 people.
 

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I do and can hear Roosevelt making that speech.

Condolences to anyone who lost someone that day and thanks to those who served to protect us.
 

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Stars and Stripes are out in the breeze now on the front of the house.

Wrote a really neat story for the paper back in 2001 about a fellow from Sterling Heights, Russell Davenport, who was aboard U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor the morning of the attack. He was trapped belowdecks for hours after the sinking and had to be rescued along with 31 of his fellow shipmates.

I had wanted to interview a Pearl Harbor veteran for a long time. Had gone to his house to see if he was interested only to find that he was in the advanced stages of terminal illness and was unable to speak. So instead, I decided to pay tribute to him by writing the story anyway, using his scrapbooks, his wife's input and an interview with Stephen Bower Young, a shipmate who was trapped alongside him. Mr. Young had written a book, Trapped at Pearl Harbor, Escape from Battleship Oklahoma that was very helpful. I wrote the story, then had to wait for the inevitable.

Mr. Davenport passed in October of that year and the series ran in two parts as a farewell tribute to a real survivor. The family really appreciated it.

Incidentally, I wrote a column about appreciating veterans, too. Pointed out that the U.S. needed to be vigilant about people elsewhere in the world who don't like us and wish us harm. Finished the column and went home at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10, 2001. Felt pretty spooky the following day...

Maybe I can find the text of the story and column and post it here later if there's interest.

Let's Remember Pearl Harbor and God Bless America
 

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Dedicated to the memory of Russell and Wanda Davenport, Stephen Bower Young, and the 2,403 Americans killed in the attack of Dec. 7, 1941 as well as to honor those who served or were wounded on that "Date Which Will Live in Infamy."

Unfortunately I can't reproduce the excellent photos we used for the story. They came from Mr. Davenport's scrapbook or were taken by my good friend and partner-in-crime, photographer Larry Lajdziak, who deserves tons of recognition for his contributions to this special project.

However, for photographs of the USS Oklahoma, visit <a href="http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-o/bb37.htm" target="_blank">http://www.history.n...snsh-o/bb37.htm on the Web. There are lots of great and very somber photos of the other ships and the attack in general.

10-21-2001

Source Newspaper, Shelby Township/Sterling Heights editions

A tribute to a real survivor
Sterling Heights man escaped sunken USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.

Part one of a two-part series.
Almost 60 years ago, he was one of the men who "came back" and defied the odds of survival after being trapped inside a sunken battleship at Pearl Harbor for over 24 hours.
Now he has gone home.
Russell Mack Davenport of Sterling Heights passed away Oct. 11 following a long illness. He was 78.
Mr. Davenport has joined the ranks of World War II veterans -- The Greatest Generation, as coined by TV newsman Tom Brokaw -- who are now dying at the rate of 1,200 per day.
He was one of the few men from this area who witnessed first-hand the terrible and humiliating losses the U.S. suffered at Pearl Harbor.

A good sailor, a good friend

Originally from Wyco, W.Va., Davenport doctored his birth certificate and joined the Navy at age 16 in 1940. As a seaman, second-class, he was assigned to one of the most coveted positions in the U.S. Navy: a berth aboard a front-line battleship, the USS Oklahoma (BB-37).
Stephen Bower Young, a resident of Belmont, Mass., served with Davenport on the Oklahoma and later wrote a book, Trapped at Pearl Harbor.
"He came aboard a month or two after I did," Young said. "That was in 1940 and we were assigned to the same division and became friends. He was a good friend of mine and a remarkable fellow. I always liked him and it was a privilege to be his friend."
Young said Davenport was among the youngest if not the youngest sailor in the division.
"He was a year or two younger than I was, and I was 18 or 19," Young said. "But he was big enough and strong enough, so nobody cared about his age. They were glad to get people in the Navy."
Like most sailors, Davenport enjoyed his time ashore, whether it was spent in a local watering hole or with the many pretty girls that enjoyed the company of the handsome blue-eyed young man in uniform.
His shipmates jokingly nicknamed him "Pinky" after the ladies' undergarment of the same color he once brought back to the ship as a souvenir of a lively liberty ashore.
As Navy men did back in the 1940s -- and still do -- Davenport got into an occasional youthful tussle while on liberty.
"That seemed to be his favorite recreation," Young said, with a chuckle. "He was very exuberant when we went ashore, but he was very good-natured about it. He didn't have a mean bone in his body."
Occasionally, Davenport's accomplishments on liberty caught the attention of his superiors.
"He told me several times that he thought he set a record in the Navy," Young said. "He was promoted, then busted 13 times," Young said, chuckling. "Over six years, from the time he enlisted until he was discharged after World War II, he had the same rank, as a seaman, second-class. But if he got in trouble, it was always ashore, never on the ship."
Young said that when it came time to do the job, fellow sailors could count on Davenport's abilities and dedication.
"He was a good sailor aboard ship," Young said. "He had a good sense of humor; he was just an all-around good fellow and a friend of everybody. I have nothing but good memories of Russell Davenport."

A proud ship, a proud crew
The Oklahoma's crew was justifiably proud of their ship.
Known affectionately as "The Okie," she was more than just a ship, more than just their place of work. She was their home.
Launched in 1914, the Oklahoma was commissioned in Philadelphia in May 1916. Oklahoma was 583 feet long, displaced 27,500 tons and carried a crew of approximately 1,300 men. Her main armament consisted of 10 14-inch and 20 five-inch guns as well as anti-aircraft weapons added over the years as air power became more of a threat.
She and her sister Nevada were the first battleships in the world with "all or nothing" armor protection -- protective steel concentrated mainly over vital areas of the ship -- and set the standard for all battleships and armored vessels to follow.
Oklahoma was modernized in Philadelphia between 1927 and 1929 and over the years, served in various capacities all over the world.
In 1936, her crew rescued American citizens and other refugees fleeing the Spanish Civil War.
"She was in very good shape," Young said. "She was launched during World War I, but she was part of the battle fleet. She was in first-class shape in spite of her age and she was one of the eight on the battle line that day (in Pearl Harbor)."
To keep the ship in tip-top shape and fighting trim took hours upon hours of work and practice.
"We kept her painted and her brass polished and we did things like swab the deck," Young said. "We won a number of awards, for which we painted 'E' for excellence on her gun turrets."
As war clouds loomed on the horizon, Oklahoma transferred to the tropical paradise of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaiian Territory for patrols and exercises.
"It was a good life and I enjoyed myself," Young said. "We all did in one way or another."

'Man your battle stations...'
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Oklahoma was moored in Battleship Row outboard of the USS Maryland when the Japanese attacked.
On that Day of Infamy, as the first wave of Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes swept over Pearl Harbor just before 8 a.m., Davenport had already had breakfast and was aboard one of the Oklahoma's 50-foot duty boats moored slightly astern of and between the two battleships.
Having completed a run for groceries and the morning newspapers, he and the other crewmen were wiping dew from the boat's seats to prepare to ferry sailors ashore for Sunday Mass.
Then the attack began.
"He thought they were the Americans dropping sand bombs or water bombs like they did for practice," said Davenport's wife, Wanda. "But then he saw the smoke and flames and thought 'This is the real thing.'"
Once the attack was under way, an officer aboard the Oklahoma called for general quarters and the manning of battle stations.
The officer even threw in some "salty" language to shake the crew into action.
The call stunned the men, and after a moment's hesitation, they scrambled to their positions.
From the duty boat, he had the option of rushing ashore just a few dozen yards away, but Davenport chose to fight as he had been trained. He climbed the ladder hanging over the ship's side and rushed to his battle station across the open deck of the ship as Japanese planes strafed around him.
Headed down a ladder, he was knocked from his feet as a Japanese aerial torpedo slammed into Oklahoma's hull.
Davenport and his buddies from the 4th Division took their positions in turret No. 4, but could not participate in the fight as the three 14-inch naval guns were useless against the aircraft strafing the decks and dropping bombs and torpedoes around them.
As the shocked and surprised men sat at their battle stations, their turret officers became confused and ordered the men deeper into the turret, below the armored deck where they believed they would be safe from the falling bombs.
Davenport would later say: "We thought at the time it was safer down there than it would be topside with the planes flying around," he said. "It was safe, alright, a little too safe."
As the battle raged over the next few minutes four more torpedoes hit home, ripping into the Okie's port side.
Thousands of tons of water poured through the gaping wounds in the Oklahoma's side and belly, through shattered bulkheads and watertight doors and hatchways left open for a scheduled inspection the following day.
Mortally wounded, the Oklahoma creaked and groaned in agony as she hemorrhaged thousands of gallons of heavy fuel oil into the harbor. In her death throes, she wallowed deeper into the water, listed sharply to port and capsized, turning over approximately 150 degrees with her masts and superstructure embedded in the muddy bottom of Pearl Harbor.
Only her starboard side and part of her keel remained above the surface.
From the first torpedo hit to the time the Oklahoma rolled over was less than 20 minutes.
A few men in the turret, realizing the ship was doomed, made it over the side into the water only to face the dangers of falling bombs, flying shrapnel, Japanese bullets and burning oil.
Other men inside the ship had no means of escape and drowned or were crushed by falling equipment.
Inside Davenport's turret, several men attempted to climb a ladder leading through the shell room where the massive 1,400-pound 14-inch shells were stored.
Six sailors made it up the ladder with Davenport close behind.
As the ship rolled, a hatchway door knocked Davenport off the ladder and back down into the lower compartment.
The men ahead of him were crushed when the 14-inch shells, held against the bulkhead only by thin Manila line, broke loose as the men passed through the compartment.

Next week: Trapped deep inside the capsized hulk of the sunken USS Oklahoma, Russell Davenport and 31 of his shipmates await rescue.
 

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10-28-2001
Source Newspapers, Shelby Township/Sterling Heights editions

Escape from battleship Oklahoma


Part two of a two-part series.

The first wave of Japanese planes swept over Pearl Harbor just before 8 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941 and in just a matter of minutes, the USS Oklahoma had been reduced to a sunken hulk, her port side smashed by at least five torpedoes.
Trapped deep inside the capsized hull of the once-proud battleship, Russell Davenport and many of his shipmates huddled in air pockets in various compartments, hoping against hope that their shipmates that had made it off the sinking vessel would bring help and rescue them from their dark and watery tomb.

Looking death in the face
When the Oklahoma came to rest after rolling 150 degrees to port, Davenport had narrowly missed being crushed to death.
As the ship rolled, a hatchway door knocked Davenport off a ladder leading up through the 14-inch gun turret that served as his battle station.
He was knocked back down into a compartment below the shell room where the massive 1,400-pound shells were stored.
The six sailors ahead of him were killed when the 14-inch shells, held against the bulkhead only by thin Manila line, broke loose as the men passed through the compartment.
Davenport, his good friend Stephen Bower Young of Belmont, Mass., and their shipmates were entombed in a coffin of steel, inside an air pocket in a trunk space near a gunpowder handling room.
"Every once in a while, one or two guys would swim around (in the flooded compartments) and try to find a way out some way," said Davenport's wife, Wanda.
"Russ tried too and saw one guy and told him to come on, but the other sailor just said 'Russ go on, I give up.' He was just 29 and the guy couldn't take it anymore. Russell never saw him again."
As the minutes, then hours passed, the men waited in total darkness as the putrid oily water rose inch-by-inch up the steel bulkheads toward the deck above their heads.
With each breath, the air grew more stale.
A few men successfully swam down out of the ship through an escape trunk, but soon, the deteriorating air sapped the strength of the 11 men remaining in that compartment.
To escape the rising water, the sailors made their way into the "Lucky Bag" an adjacent compartment used as a "lost and found" and as storage for hammocks and clothing.
The dim light of a battle lantern with failing batteries would periodically show the water's progress up the bulkhead and into the Lucky Bag.
Wanda Davenport once asked her husband if he was frightened.
"He said 'Hell, yes I was scared. I wanted to scream and I got panicky, but I didn't dare show that, not with all those older guys,'" she said. "Here the other guys were 20 or 25 years old and they were the older guys because he was 16 or 17."
Davenport, like his fellow sailors, kept his cool in the face of a terrible death from either drowning or suffocation.

Escape from the Lucky Bag

The men took turns banging out an SOS on the hull with a wrench, hoping that someone outside would hear them.
Help was on the way.
Some of the men who had escaped the turret let rescuers know where their shipmates were located.
Salvation came on the morning of Dec. 8 in the form of 19 sailors and civilian shipyard workers under the direction of navy yard chief Julio DeCastro.
As DeCastro calmly soothed the men inside the ship, the rescuers chiseled into the heavy steel with air hammers and opened small holes in the hull so the men could escape.
As the hull was cut open, the pressurized air pockets inside the ship that had sustained life escaped and water surged into the compartments where the men were trapped, lending urgency to the task.
Davenport later said that the water rose to the top of the compartment, forcing him to swallow at least a couple of gallons of oily water as he tried to hold his breath until he could be helped from the Lucky Bag into the bright sunshine outside after spending 25 hours inside the Oklahoma.
Men aboard the adjacent battleship USS Maryland cheered as the sailors escaped one-by-one from the holes cut in the Oklahoma.
In all, 32 men would be pulled from the bowels of the dead battleship, some having been trapped for more than 40 hours.
Lost were over 400 officers and sailors, and of course, their beloved Oklahoma.
"I was sorry to see her go like that," Young said solemnly.
The men were shocked at the devastation they found outside.
All eight battleships in Pearl Harbor had been hit, including the still-burning USS Arizona, which lost almost 1,200 members of her crew from several hits including one aerial bomb that set off her forward powder magazine in a devastating explosion.
A total of 19 ships were sunk or damaged and 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed. Military casualties were 2,280 killed and 1,109 wounded. Sixty-eight civilians also died as a result of Japanese action or friendly fire.

'A Date which will live in Infamy'

On Dec. 8, 1941, the day Davenport and his shipmates were rescued, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan with his famous "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress.
All of the battleships but the Arizona and Oklahoma would rise from the mud of Pearl Harbor to fight again.
Mr. Davenport lost all his personal belongings on the Oklahoma and had to borrow clothes to return to duty after a brief stay on a hospital ship.
Following their recovery from the experience, Davenport and Young were reassigned to the USS Honolulu, a light cruiser.
"All his papers were lost," Wanda Davenport said. "They had to swear him in again when he got on the Honolulu."
Davenport would later go on to the USS Denver in early 1942, another light cruiser that had an illustrious battle career in the Pacific. He was also assigned to the USS Oglala, an engine repair ship.

So long, Oklahoma

The difficult job of salvaging the Oklahoma began in March 1943. Using a system of pulleys and cables the Oklahoma was righted, patched, pumped out and placed in drydock Dec. 28, 1943.
The remains of her lost crew were removed and received proper burial.
Decommissioned Sept. 1, 1944, Oklahoma was stripped of her guns and superstructure and sold for $46,000 in December 1946 for scrap.
En route to her fate with the scrappers' torches, the ship developed problems. Her tow was turned around in an attempt to make it back to Pearl Harbor.
On the night of May 17, 1947, Oklahoma's towline parted and the proud vessel, guided by the souls of her lost crew, found her final resting place in three miles of water, 540 miles from Pearl Harbor.
There would be no razor blades made from her hull.
Oklahoma received one battle star for World War II service even though she never had the chance to fire her guns in anger.

Life after the Navy

After his discharge in 1946, Davenport returned home and traveled to Michigan, to visit his brother stationed in Sault Ste. Marie as a guard at the Soo Locks.
He then came to Detroit to visit an aunt and uncle, but ran out of money and stayed to work in the Detroit area, where he later met his wife.
They married in January 1952 and would have celebrated their 50th anniversary in just three months.
After working several factory jobs, at places like Chrysler's Jefferson Avenue plant, he bought the Parakeet Bar on East Seven Mile near Hayes in Detroit with his brother-in-law.
He retired in 1983, and spent his golden years with his wife.
"We enjoyed traveling," she said. "He didn't care for fishing or hunting, but his passion was golf. He just loved to play golf. We used to go golfing every morning and we'd be on the grounds at 8 a.m. and we used to go to the VFW Bruce post in St. Clair Shores."
The other love of Davenport's life was his Yorkshire terrier, Ginger.
"She was his pride and joy," she said.
Pearl Harbor remembered
Like other survivors of the Dec. 7 attack, there were always those dark moments at Pearl Harbor that lingered in Davenport's mind.
"He didn't talk about it too much," Wanda Davenport said.
Davenport joined the Pearl Harbor Survivors' Association and it helped him deal with his experience, like it had many others.
"They never talked about it, but when they got together, they would start talking about it a little bit," she said. "Each time we went, they would open up a little more. Someone would start by telling a little joke, and then they would start talking. But then sometimes they would start talking about something that would get too serious and someone couldn't take it so they'd cut it out."
Over the years, the Davenports attended several reunions for the Oklahoma's crew and national conventions for the Pearl Harbor Survivors' Association.
"They have been so nice," she said.
Visits at the conventions and occasional phone calls have also allowed Young and Davenport to keep in touch over the years.
But time has done what Japanese bullets and bombs could not so many years ago.
"There's not too many of us left now," Young said quietly.
Today, the USS Arizona serves as a memorial to her crew and all of the men and women who were at Pearl Harbor that sunny Sunday morning when they -- and America as well -- lost their youthful innocence.
The Davenports made it a point to attend the five-year reunions held at Pearl Harbor and visit the Arizona.
"It gives you such an eerie feeling," Wanda Davenport said. "The water is so clear and every once in a while, an oil bubble comes up and drifts away."
Some say it's the Arizona still bleeding; others say it's the tears of the ship, crying for the over 1,000 men still entombed in her hull.
"War is terrible," Wanda Davenport said. "Young people don't know anything about it. It's such a terrible waste."
But somewhere in heaven's tropical paradise, there is the happy sound of a bosun's whistle as a young sailor climbs the gangway and steps aboard the teak decks of the USS Oklahoma to join his friends.
This day, St. Peter is the officer of the deck.
"Request permission to come aboard. Russell Davenport, reporting for duty, sir."
He has gone home, this time to a port of eternal peace.

Mr. Davenport is survived by his wife, Wanda, sisters Lillian (Clarence) Wilkerson, Hazel (Leo) Wilkerson, Dona Rae (Sam) Weitenfeld and brother Carl (DeAnna) Davenport. Mr. Davenport's funeral was held Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Edward Swanson & Son Funeral Home, with interment at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy.
 

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10-21-2001

Column
Source Newspapers, Shelby Township/Sterling Heights editions

Note from me: Mind the date. This was written before we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the message is as relevant as ever.

Honor and remember our veterans among us

The story of Russell Davenport is nothing short of amazing.
He was doing his job for his country when he was trapped in a capsized battleship at Pearl Harbor on the fateful morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
That attack plunged the United States into World War II and was but one of the many battles that would be fought in the crusade to free Europe and the Pacific from the evils of fascism.
There are so many stories that can be told about each of the men and women who fought for freedom.
Everyone has one.
Mr. Davenport's amazing survival after being trapped in the sunken USS Oklahoma is just one story in that chapter of American History.
So many Americans became heroes while others like Mr. Davenport, were survivors, not to be confused with the trite, overused description used today for certain TV game show contestants.
At Pearl Harbor, Mr. Davenport and his shipmates started the day as boys and, as darkness fell, they ended the day as men.
But as much as I had wanted to speak to Davenport about his experiences aboard the Oklahoma, I was too late.
Mr. Davenport passed away Oct. 11, and so I must honor him posthumously, in third person.
The figures have been recently updated to reflect that World War II veterans are dying at the rate of 1,200 per day.
Just look at the obituaries in your daily paper and you're bound to find at least two or three who served in the war.
Yet there is no way to capture the essence of those veterans, their life stories and experiences in just a few lines of black and white in an obituary.
In some cases, not even the families they've left behind know the true stories of their service, and some families never really cared.
Of the 16 million men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the war, most returned home to become parents, grandparents, successful business people, doctors, farmers, leaders or just ordinary people; the fabric of our American society.
There are so many stories. Everyone has one.
And yet there is the other side to think about, too.
Some came back alive, but were never the same, changed forever or maimed physically and/or mentally by their experiences.
So many others were killed during the war and came home only for their funeral.
Others, well, never came home and were consigned forever to some foreign soil or worse, just oblivion as they fell from the sky, on a battlefield or sank beneath the waves.
They were someone's brother, father, uncle or son.
There were women, too, who served their country proudly.
In World War II, 16,112,566 Americans served in the Armed Forces. Of those, 291,557 were killed and another 670,846 were wounded.
Some families paid more than others.
Remember the five Sullivan brothers?
They all died when the light cruiser USS Juneau was torpedoed in the South Pacific.
What kinds of contributions would all of those people have made?
What about the families that they left behind that still grieve for them 60 years later?
They are heroes, for they made the ultimate sacrifice.
There is no way of knowing how many would have made great discoveries or would have been great leaders of their time.
The rest, well, they could have been ordinary Americans, holding ordinary jobs, but even that is special because each would have their own story and each one of them was an American.
Those young men and women embodied the spirit of America with their young hopes and dreams, and like in so many wars, their deaths were a tremendous waste.
That is the tragedy of war, but they, and those Americans who followed them in the service, died for a reason: so that we may live today in freedom.
There are so many stories. Everyone has one.
Today, almost 60 years later, as the heroes and survivors of World War II and other wars like Korea or even Vietnam pass on, there is the danger that we could forget the sacrifices they made.
It is true that those who forget the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them.
Today, there are serious threats to the United States from enemies on foreign shores, not only from large countries, but from small religious or political factions.
The threats are there from all over the world, including from within the borders of our own country.
The events of Sept. 11 underline that point like no other, but Dec. 7 and Sept. 11 are incomparable in so many ways.
We cannot afford to become complacent or isolationist.
That didn't work too well in the 1930s and early 1940s, and it certainly won't work now.
We cannot let the deaths of so many be in vain.
We must remember the past and learn from it, not second-guess it with 60 years of hindsight on issues like the decision to use the atomic bombs on Japan. You have to look at events using the context of the times and who better to help understand that history than the people who lived it.
We must learn from the stories of these men and women.
They have been people to look up to and honor.
There are so many stories. Everyone has one.
Today, some veterans, particularly those who survived the attack, are concerned with some of the contemporary attitudes young people show while visiting places like Pearl Harbor.
Many are disrespectful, laughing and joking and otherwise acting inappropriately.
Maybe that will change after Sept. 11. Maybe not.
There is the danger that today's young people are learning about events like the Pearl Harbor attack as depicted, for example, in what was supposed to be one of the summer's biggest movies.
That was diluted with a sappy love story, a la Titanic.
The danger is having the events shown in the movie accepted as fact, which many are, from what I understand, more Hollywood's version of revisionist history than anything else, just to appeal to a wider audience and make it a "chick flick."
The film's ending was even modified in one version so not to offend the Japanese, hence the truth becomes lost in a quest for revenue.
We may be able to forgive, but we can never forget what happened.
Head to the library and read about the truth.
Or just ask a veteran or anyone else who lived through those times.
We should honor these men and women while they are still with us because they lived and they created that history.
For some it is still too painful to talk about, and we must respect that. Others don't mind sharing their stories and are honored to do so.
So go ahead, and ask dad, grandpa or whomever about their experiences. Their stories need to be shared and recorded for future generations.
It's not just looking back at the war, but at American attitudes, lives and simply, a way of life in another era.
And after Sept. 11, maybe we can appreciate their sacrifices a little more.
We owe these veterans so much, for they truly saved the world.
There are so many stories. Everyone has one.
So let's remember and honor men like Russell Davenport and their accomplishments.
Let's remember Pearl Harbor.
We must remember.
For our history and for our own good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you Jon. I haven't finished reading them yet but I will tonight.

Jim
 

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Let's Remember Pearl Harbor

Thought I'd bring this story back to the fore.

In memory of Russell "Pinky" Davenport, his wife Wanda,shipmate Stephen Bower Young and the thousands of men and women who were there on the Day of Infamy.
 
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