The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Pearl Harbor Day Reflection

Posted on | December 7, 2010 | 16 Comments

by Smitty

COLUMBIA, SC, CAMP MCREADY– At roughly the halfway point of my Abbreviated Introduction to the Army course, along comes the Day That Will Live in Infamy. While in Hawaii in July 2010, my wife and I made some time to get down to Ford Island with the then-brand-new camcorder. One profound aspect of the memorials there is the juxtaposition of the USS Missouri museum with the USS Oklahoma memorial:

From Shaun Schafer:

The surprise raid on the U.S. Pacific Fleet and air bases at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor left 21 ships heavily damaged or sunk. The Oklahoma was one of only three not to return to service.
The other two, the USS Arizona and USS Utah, remain on the floor of the harbor. The Arizona, which has a gleaming white memorial astride it midship, remains a tomb for most of its lost crew. The Utah rests on the harbor floor, largely forgotten.
The Oklahoma wound up hundreds of miles from the harbor, resting in a grave of her own making, in the crushing depths of the Pacific Ocean.
“The way she went down just proves that she had a mind of her own, and was a great lady right to the end,” Goodyear said.

While it’s a great thing that there is no lingering resentment over the Second World War, the neglect of the history bears review.

The rest of the story of BB-37 is the stuff of classical tragedy:

“Sold for scrap, she was en route to the West Coast when she mercifully broke her tow and sank. . .” In the background of the shot of the Oklahoma memorial sits the flip side of the coin, USS Missouri:

Sometimes you’re the hero; other times, the footnote, per the Fickle Finger of Fate. I’ve met a few survivors of brushes with greatness. Most understand that the distance between hero and footnote is measured in tiny units of Fortune. Real heros often don’t take their heroism too seriously, grasping that much of it is pure circumstance. Not infrequently, it’s affixed after the fact by non-participants seeking to organize events.
Should one’s turn come, one hopes that preparation and Destiny drives toward a Missiouri outcome. A reading of the Book of Job, however, instructs that, sometimes, Oklahoma will be the result.
As has been noted:

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
–Job 1:20-21


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