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Japanese ship San-Francisco-Maru and tank encrusted with marine life in the lagoon at Truk Atoll, Micronesia, South Pacific, make up a tiny fraction of the undersea debris of WWII.
Water Closet for 12-7-13 Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941 is to us old timers what September 11, 2001 is to younger folks. On both days many Americans died in a short time. In the case of “9/11” the attackers were 19 Saudi Arabian terrorists. Angry, our country attacked Iraq and Afghanistan. On December 7, 1941 the bombing raid on Pearl Harbor was the diabolical work of the Imperial Japanese Navy sent across the Pacific by out of control Japanese war lords. Its bombers flew in from aircraft carriers northwest of Oahu, Hawaii.
The old Closeteer, then eight, clearly remembers gathering around his Uncle Karl’s radio a few minutes after noon with him, two younger cousins, and two aunts. The future Closeteer’s mother was in the hospital with then much feared pneumonia. It was a bright Sunday. Aunt Winnie and Aunt Annie had not long before returned from church. The three adults in the group were obviously very upset as reports of the bombing came in. The future Closeteer can’t remember anything they said. His younger cousins were as mystified as he. Where is Hawaii? Who are the Japanese?
Monday, the following day, was more enlightening. We knew how many ships had been sunk and roughly how many men were dead or dying. All seemingly agreed that the Japanese were sneaky warriors. When older we learned that the warrior resides to some degree in many of us and can be too easily aroused by folks with an extra dose of patriotism. It was rumored that the young men in town were already rushing to sign up. At school our strict principal, “Old Biddy Noyes” to us behind our teachers’ and parents’ backs, gathered all 180 or so of us, grades one through eight, in the 8th
grade room where she had set up a radio. There we heard the distinctive voice of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he delivered his short “Day of Infamy” speech. All stood at attention. No sound other than his voice is remembered. By the end of the speech our country was formally at war with enemies across and in two oceans. “Remember Pearl Harbor” was the country’s battle cry. It was truly a water war on a massive scale. In the next four years thousands of ships were sunk; hundreds of thousands of allied and enemy sailors died. In small Salisbury, boys and girls knew many of the soldiers and sailors from our town. As the war went on the boys proudly wore their superseded rating badges. When a man was promoted, say from corporal to sergeant or seaman to third class petty officer, he would often send his old stripes to kids, often pen pals at home. Eight Salisbury men didn’t come home. Gold stars hung in their parents’ windows.