Thursday, December 08, 2016

An historical moment

I didn't post any mention yesterday of it being the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor (lots of other people did, though). I want to correct that now.

I learned about it in school. My dad was a small child (Six, he would have been) and says he remember the adults being concerned and somber about something but not knowing what. I remember my fifth grade math teacher (who was older than my dad - I think she said she was a young teen) said that she remembered how the radio program her family was listening to was broken into to announce the news and how everything changed. And years later, my friend Dorothy - who was a v. young college student during the war - said she remembered the news of the attack (she lived in California and so it would have been a bigger concern there). Also, she talked about how she learned to drive and actually did volunteer work transporting medicines to hospitals around the area where she lived, because the men who had done it in the past had enlisted in the war effort.

Funny how different times were.

Of course, for my generation, September 11, 2011, would have been similar. Oh, in many ways it was different - for one thing, civilians were attacked rather than a military target (and in my mind, that seems particularly cowardly - to go after ordinary people on their way to work. Attacking a Navy base of a country you are not currently at war at, while it's bad, doesn't seem cowardly in the same way). But the aftereffects were different. I admit, I was patterning "what is going to happen" on what I knew from older relatives talking about World War II - yes, I was actually expecting gas-rationing and food-rationing and was surprised and discombobulated when the call went out from some circles that it was "patriotic" to go shopping because it stimulated the economy. And of course we didn't have the massive mobilization that we had in World War II (I don't think people of my generation fully appreciate just how broad the war effort was - most families in the country had at least one person in the armed forces in some capacity).

I don't know if sentiment against those belonging to the same group as "the attackers" was worse then or now. I heard of attacks against Muslim-Americans in the wake of 2001, and I know the Lebanese family that ran a favorite restaurant of my parents very prominently displayed an American flag and had "God Bless America" on their sign (They are nominally Muslim, but one of the men laughed good-naturedly and said "We accept all well-wishes; we celebrate everything" when my dad once asked him if it was okay for my dad to wish him a Merry Christmas - my dad didn't know at that point if they were Christian, Muslim, or what). Then again, we didn't inter people in 2001, though there may have been a few isolated calls for that. (I knew a man when I was growing up - the husband of the minister* who baptized me - who had been interred because he was of Japanese heritage. He wasn't particularly bitter about it but he did say he wished it hadn't happened). And what I'm reading now about the World War I homefront must have been unpleasant for my German-American ancestors if they were very out about their heritage. (They probably *weren't,* I think by and large that kind of thing was less of a thing than it is now).

And I have heard of people who never trusted those of Japanese heritage after 1941. That's unfortunate but I suppose understandable.

(*A woman minster.....this was long before Obergefell and while the Disciples of Christ are pretty liberal about that kind of thing, I don't think the little local congregation I was in would have been)

I don't know where I'm going with this, other than I think it's important to mark the day. (When I was in eighth grade history, I was commended by my teacher for being the ONLY one in the class who knew that it was Pearl Harbor Day. I think I knew that and it was in my mind because Del and Tom had mentioned in on their morning "news lite" show - my family watched it).

No comments: