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The Attack on Pearl Harbor I was five years old old.  The Depression was behind us but it and WWII shaped my life.  I have vivid memories from the newsreels.  My mom took me to the movies often.  I especially remember the reels of the liberation of the death camps in Europe, but my memories of the war in the Pacific have two components.  I was too young to really appreciate Pearl harbor and its meaning but later my life's course brought me to grips with it again and again.  Let me tell you how I came to understand this day in in 1941 as I grew older and what it means to me now beneath the break.  If this seems boring to you then you have a lot to learn!

First of all I went to college via the Regular NROTC Program.  Every semester of college we had a manditory "millitary science" course (the quotes denote an obvious oxymoron).So we did military history.  We studied the war in the pacific in great detail.  I only want to comment here that we went through the "math" of taking island by island as we gained our foothold on the Pacific.  Here I was in a college course "calculating" the cost in American lives of taking each island.  I never really got over that!

Oh then there was that magnificent musical historyVictory at Sea  by Rogers and Hammerstein.  I loved that music and somehow allowed myself to be mesmerized by it.  It even played a role in my early romances.

The bomb is a very core thing in my experiences.  I remember the "duck and cover" drills in school later on.

We paid them back and we ended the war but we paid a price we will never be able to assess by developing the bomb.

I can save a lot of space here by telling you that I now think I know what made that happen.  I, as a scientist, have always been fascinated by the many faceted roles science and technology play in our world.

My friend, Jim Coffman, and I just published a book that tells the story of why we have to do what technology and science make us able to do.  It tells the story of how science itself, as a product of our brains, fits into the economic system we call "capitalism", for lack of a more modern and accurate concept, and it puts all this together.

I want to go back to one of the things that broke me free.  During graduate school in the 1960s I played the guitar and sang to make my life better.  Here is a song from Dylan that really means a lot to me.

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on it's side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on it's side.

The Spanish-American
War had it's day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Clearly Dylan, and I, were too optimistic.  Either there is no god or he, she or it is far more evil than we ever anticipated.  Remember Peal Harbor!

Poll

Pearl Harbor

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| 34 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:44:25 PM PST

  •  Thanks to bad weather... (9+ / 0-)

    ...my father-in-law's ship missed the attack on Pearl Harbor by about a day. They didn't call the USS Enterprise (CV-6) the "Lucky E" for nothing!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:49:37 PM PST

  •  Only Caveat, It Allowed Us to Make Several More (3+ / 0-)

    demonstrations of reducing economic injustice with the postwar GI Bill, Marshall Plan and Asian reconstruction.

    Of course I don't say the war and its creation of the standing military-industrial-intelligence complex was "worth" the costs for giving us that opportunity. But I have to wonder how much more wealth compression and social programs we'd have been able to pass if the world had somehow stabilized warlessly in the late 30's.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:02:13 PM PST

  •  America made civilians pay (3+ / 0-)

    Not actually the ones who decided to attack PH, which was targeted because it was a military base.

    I'm horrified just HEARING about mandatory courses of "military science" (oxymoron indeed) and doing the "math" of calculating the cost of human lives in the Pacific, though. Wow.

    And if anyone actually finds talk of the atrocities during WWII boring, I pity them. A lot to learn indeed! You can't afford not to be informed about this as much as possible no matter which generation you're a part of (Millennial here) if you want to help prevent these horrors from ever happening again.

  •  The military thinking at the time (0+ / 0-)

    Was expecting that there was going to be a naval conflict with Japan eventually; the planners had been plotting scenarios about it for a quarter centruty.  And they expected it to involve a "decisive battle", which up until that time seemed to define every major naval based war in history.

    The Japanese thought that Pearl Harbor would be the pre-emptive decisive battle, and it might have been if the aircraft carriers were also in port.  But the carriers weren't, and with the battleship fleet decimated, the Navy had to alter course and rely on air power, an untested naval idea that was far from accepted and wanted by the graduates of Annapolis.

    Japan unwittignly changed the face of Naval warfare that day.

    •  sorry but that is hogwash......n/t (0+ / 0-)

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:00:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, he's right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ybruti

        Pearl Harbor was the end of Naval warfare as it basically had been known for centuries. (Being the math of the "weight of metal" as the primary calculation for naval victory.)

        Pearl Harbor showed that naval air warfare--and air warfare in general--had made the age-old ideal of a big boat with big guns utterly obsolete.

        "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

        by Wheever on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:26:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry but there were more later before the point (0+ / 0-)

          was made.  Midway is one example.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:40:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps I should have said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            don mikulecky

            "beginning of the end."

            Midway was a carrier duel, supporting my point. (But I'm beginning to think that we're saying the same thing, but just misunderstanding each other, don.)

            "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

            by Wheever on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:47:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  try this (0+ / 0-)

              Operation Praying Mantis was the April 18, 1988 action waged by U.S. naval forces in retaliation for the Iranian mining of an American warship by the Iran Ajr.
              The battle, the largest between surface forces since World War II, sank two Iranian warships and as many as six armed speedboats.

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:21:28 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Hogwash? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky

        There's support for tampaedski's view in a diary by blueness about Yamamoto : http://www.dailykos.com/....

        In 1930, ... Yamamoto ...walked away from a “disarmament” conference in London having convinced the British and Americans that there should be placed no limits on the production of Japanese naval aircraft, which, he argued, were required to defend Japan’s home waters from Chinese pirates and Soviet evildoers. Before anyone else, Yamamoto understood that future naval battles in the Pacific would be fought and won by aircraft, not ships.

        The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

        by ybruti on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:32:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wise postwar policy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, don mikulecky

    Guided by experts such as Ruth Benedict, we worked with Japanese society and rebuilt a nation which is now a contributor to the world.

    The cost was unthinkable, but it would have been worse if we'd won the war and lost the peace.

  •  Minor musical quibble . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    The score for the "Victory at Sea" television series was by Richard Rogers (no Hammerstein).  You may be confusing it with the musical "South Pacific", with score by Rogers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:50:39 PM PST

    •  ty just off the top of my head (0+ / 0-)

      I remember now

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:35:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just getting us "old geezers" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky

        on the same page.  My father did his Pacific time as a purser in the Merchant Marine (delivering supplies to "Friday Harbor" and other similar places).  Nasty business all of it . . . "months of boredom punctuated by minutes of terror" was a common description . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:32:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There's other alternatives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky
    Either there is no god or he, she or it is far more evil than we ever anticipated.
    Only if God thinks like you do.
    In the words of Woody Allen, God is a comedian playing to an audience that doesn't know how to laugh

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 03:06:42 AM PST

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