Sunday, December 07, 2008
December 7, 1941
A day that will live in infamy.
I was just watching the news and they were interviewing a few survivors from Pearl Harbor. One 80-something man was telling his account of what happened that day. He said when the bombs hit his ship, the USS Pennsylvania, he was knocked overboard. He went on to say that the kids on deck were picking up the kids floating wounded in the water. And he thanked God he was one of those kids. Kids, he said kids. That's what they were...... Kids. Amazing.
While my father wasn't in Pearl Harbor, he was one of the kids who joined a short time later. He just turned 17 and was loading bombs on planes in Italy. The other part of his job was unloading the dead bodies. It took him 50 some years to talk about it. God, I couldn't even imagining sending one of my sons off to war at 17. They couldn't even find their way home from Oakland when they were that age for Christ sake!
My mothers brother George missed Pearl Harbor by 4 days. He was discharged four days before the attack. He was stationed in Pearl Harbor. He came home and quickly went back. I can't remember the exact battles, but I know he was in Japan because he had this huge Japanese flag. My grandmother kept it in her cedar chest. My cousin Jeff and I would stay overnight pretty much every Friday when we were kids. When we got bored, we would go through her cedar chest. That flag always scared me to death. It was huge and had blood and bullet holes in it. My grandmother would always tease him and tell him that she washed it to get all the stains out of it. He would tell her "Mom, if you only knew what I went through to get that flag."
I never got a chance to ask what he went through because when he returned home after the war, he and his young wife bought a house on 43rd Street in Lawrenceville. They were home from the war for about 10 weeks when they both were killed from carbon monoxide poisoning. Apparently,they got a new furnace for their house the week before and I think there was a leak or something. Even though my mom and aunt told me hundreds of times, I can't remember details. I'm sure George, Danny, Jeff or The Madonna could fill in much more detail than I wrote here. Feel free to add your two cents.
I always thought that was so sad he survived the whole war and came home and was killed.
He was 24, same age as my "kid".
The Greatest Generation? No doubt about it.