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Dec 072013
 
Captured Japanese photograph taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. In the distance, the smoke rises from Hickam Field.

Captured Japanese photograph taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. In the distance, the smoke rises from Hickam Field.

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor.

At 8:00 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Admiral Husband Kimmel, in charge of Pearl Harbor, sent out a hurried dispatch to all in the U.S. naval fleet, “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL.”

Seven U.S. battleships on Battleship row — Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Oklahoma and California — were attacked, damaged and some sunk in the harbor. The Arizona and Oklahoma eventually returned to active duty.

We all know about the Arizona, in which 1,100 of her crewmen were killed. Only 32 crewmen aboard the Oklahoma, which turned upside down after being struck by about 9 torpedos.

By 9:45, 110 minutes after the attack began, it was over.

2,335 U.S. servicemen were killed and 1,143 were wounded. 68 civilians were

Photograph of a small boat rescuing a seaman from the burning USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor.

Photograph of a small boat rescuing a seaman from the burning USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor.

killed and 35 wounded. Also, 65 Japanese were killed and 1 captured.

Meanwhile in Connecticut

In 1941 my mother was a pre-teen, enjoying a wonderful day as she walked home from a motion picture show with her siblings in Bridgeport around 1:45 p.m. Their joyful attitudes changed when they noticed their mother rushing toward them.

“What’s wrong?” the children asked.

“We’re at war,” my Gramma said. “The Japanese have attacked us.”

Of course as children, between the ages of 10-15, their hearts sunk into their stomachs as fear and images of the Japanese soldiers coming to Connecticut and killing everyone rushed through their minds.

War changes everything

Telegram-KIAOn Dec. 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that December 7, 1941 would be “a date that will live in infamy,” and the United States declared war on Japan.

My mother, aunt and uncle remembered the men in their city going to war and the anguished screams they could hear whenever a telegram was delivered on their block.

Women left the comfort and familiarity of domestic life and began working in factories to help the war effort, my Gramma was among them.

War is hell, and 291,557 Americans were killed from the time we got involved in WWII until Sept. 2, 1945, when Japan surrendered (VJ Day, Victory over Japan Day).

As more and more of our Orange WWII Veterans grow older and leave us, let’s not forget to give them thanks when we see them around town. Tomorrow’s holiday festival will be a great time to seek them out, shake their hands and say “thank you.”

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