Those of a certain age will always remember that today, December 7th is a day that will, in the terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “live in infamy.” The reference being, of course, to the surprise attack of the forces of the Empire of Japan on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
And I am old enough that the 7th always sticks in my mind. I’ve never toured the USS Arizona hulk or visited the memorial despite the almost countless times I have been to Hawaii. In an odd way this is out of respect for the final resting place of the personnel that were on the ship when it was hit by a Japanese torpedo that went down the funnel and nailed the magazine dead on blowing the battlewagon to ratshit and killing all those servicemen who had been anticipating a quiet Sunday morning. The Arizona is, after all, a grave.
A few years ago we drove out to the big Pearlridge Mall, an extensive shopping venue that overlooks the harbor. I was wandering around a sizable Japanese-owned department store and couldn’t help but be struck by the fact this Tokyo-based emporium looked directly down upon the Arizona. Somehow there was an undefined irony in that.
While the hit on Pearl Harbor was on a US military installation, it was much more global than that. Not only did it bring the United States into World War Two – finally, two years after everybody else began mixing it up – but it brought the rest of the Allies, including Canada, into the Japanese War.
So, as the Pearl Harbor Attack was America’s day of infamy, later in the month of December Canada faced her own Asian War day of infamy, and it’s well that Canadians remember, despite the fact that successive Canadian governments have chosen to happily forget Christmas Day, 1941. While Japan has consistently ignored its culpability in terms of human rights violations.
And here’s how that horrific tale has played out over the years.
A special thought today for those who were at Pearl, though few still remain, and likewise those at Hong Kong.