On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. My grandfather, child of the depression and the son of immigrants, served in the war. Fortunately, he was a prolific writer and kept a journal for most of his life. If he had the platforms available today to share his wisdom, he would have actually made money writing instead of writing for the purpose of trying to covertly sell more labels! He did author several books and articles related to his military service (Pacific Theater on a B-29 bomber) and work after the war (insurance).
Recently, I got some of his personal journals. I am compiling them to share with my family. I recently came across a passage he wrote on February 23, 1989. President George H.W. Bush, himself a World War II veteran, attended Hirohito’s funeral on that date. I remember talking to my grandfather about Bush’s decision back then. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I read his journal the week before the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
My grandfather’s opening and closing paragraphs from his entry about Hirohito’s funeral. In between, he wrote about his internal struggles with Bush’s decision. He served in the Army Air Corp on bombers in the Pacific. He was shot at and shot at the enemy.
Please read his words closely and compare to the world today where it seems like every citizen and company is asking the government for help. As the news reports almost daily on violence related to seemingly minor incidents (for example, traffic issues causing road rage), it also seems like our ability to forgive has been lost as well. While my grandfather and many great men and women from his generation have left this world, my hope is we can honor their legacy by being more like them.
Hirohito’s Funeral – February 23, 1989 – Thursday
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, I was one of millions of young Americans who felt a duty to enter the war. A few months too young for military service, I waited with a strong burning desire until I could enlist…the draft was not necessary as far as I was concerned. As a matter of fact, as a trained machinist from East Tech High School and with an important function as such at a defense plant, Ohio Crankshaft, it was at least as important to remain in that post as it was to join the Army Air Corps. However, I chose the latter.
I cannot completely forget, as yet, any part in the war, and perhaps, never really will. But I do forgive Japanese people for their actions and hope others will as well. Hirohito will have to answer to Someone much higher and infinitely wiser. I gently bow to that authority.