It’s been 71 years to the day since the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
After 71 years, I suspect there are some people who might say it’s an anniversary so it comes around every year and what’s in the past is in the past.
Part of that would be true. The date of the Pearl Harbor attack comes around every year. I would argue, however, that we shouldn’t just leave it in the past or forget about it.
As for the Moose Jaw connection, there are a few. I found a post on an ancestry site where someone mentioned a Moose Jaw resident who died on the U.S.S. Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor in the Second World War. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant. The attack still killed more than 2,000 citizens and wounded more than 1,000 in less than two hours.
Further, it was the match that lit the flame causing the United States to enter the war and ultimately help the Allies defeat the Nazis. Imagine a world where Adolf Hitler and his regime ruled. It’s hard to fathom, but I’m sure it would be a totally different world than we live in now and not in a good way.
It also happens that the Moose Jaw Western Development Museum has a photography exhibit on display called Two Views: Photography by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank that runs until February 2013. The exhibit features photographs of Japanese Canadians and Americans being taken to and held in internment camps opened after the Pearl Harbor bombing. The government held approximately 22,000 Japanese Canadians in the internment camps.
As horrible as the internment camps were, I believe it’s important we remember and discuss them so it doesn’t happen again. Sometimes witnessing historic evidence of awful things is a good way to let the effects of what truly happened sink in.
Personally, I have been to the Pearl Harbor memorial site. I looked at the monuments and seen the harbour where it happened. I stood where they stood. I saw the Remembrance Circle tribute to the military members and civilians who were killed.
I visited the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial built on top of the sunken ship. That by far was the most solemn, sobering and sad part of the tour. I read the names of all the people that died on the very place I was standing. As I looked over the edge at the water, a chilling feeling washed over me. I knew I stood over a gravesite of 1,177 people.
I saw parts of the ship underneath the water. I learned that the ship is still leaking fuel.
The day before the attack in 1941 a full load of almost 1.5 million gallons of fuel was hauled on the U.S.S. Arizona for its scheduled trip later in the month.
However, the attack changed everything. I learned 500,000 gallons of fuel are slowly leaking into the harbour. Every day, the ship spills up to nine quarts of oil into the harbour each day, even 70 years after the ship was attacked.
So yes, Pearl Harbor is relevant and important to remember. It is not a moment of history we look back on in a good light. It was tragic.
Should we forget the bombing and the internment camps set up in Canada afterward, we’d disgrace the memory of all affected.
But if there is anything history can do for us, it is to make us understand the world we live in, how we got here and may even provide clues on how to help create a better future.