Wednesday, February 1, 2012
My great aunt was a nurse in Honolulu's Catholic hospital on December 7, 1941. A free spirited lady, born and raised in Montana but wanting to see the world (wonder where I got the wanderbug; look no further), she had married a native Hawaii'an and settled in the city. When the planes flew over and bombs began to fall, she busied herself with getting over to the bases and helping wherever she could, though not enlisted in the armed forces; not yet. After things settled down, she flew home to Montana, "borrowed" her younger sister's birth certificate (Aunt H was considered too old to enlist at the age of 30), and became an Army Lt., eventually becoming one of the first medical personnel to accompany Gen. Eisenhower into Dachau to liberate thousands of concentration camp prisoners. And all because of one day that, indeed, lived in infamy.
Yukon's father was a lowly navigator for the Submarine Service, and traveled in and out of Pearl Harbor frequently. He joined up the day of the attacks, and was sent to Pearl to help with the salvage of the many ships destroyed on December 7, before spending the majority of time encountering Japanese ships in the South Pacific, returning to Pearl for resupplying. We toured the USS Bowfin, a sub exactly like those Yukon's father sailed.
Then there was Bear. Like most kids, a historical site like the ones at the WWII Valor in the Pacific is full of things to see, touch, and soak up. With such deep military roots, Bear was anxious to know about submarines and wars and the people who fought them. Especially at the USS Arizona memorial, his understanding became clear as he peered below the stark, white monument to the oily depths below, where hundreds of souls still lay. He got it.