December 7, 1941 + 80 years

The sinking of the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941

On this, the 80th anniversary of the event, remember Pearl Harbor, and those Americans who died there.

I have no memory of the day, obviously. Nor do any of my living relatives. 

But my maternal grandfather told me about it. He heard the news on the radio, within hours of the actual bombardment. 

No, he was not there. In fact, before the Japanese attack, he had no intention of having anything to do with the military.

At the time, he was a twenty-year-old man, still single, working a factory job in Cincinnati. He had come to Cincinnati from Adams County, on the fringes of Southern Ohio’s Appalachian region. His parents were dirt-poor, subsistence farmers; he wanted something different for himself. 

Pearl Harbor changed his life plans, as it changed the plans of millions of other young people of that era. 

My grandfather never even hesitated on the question of signing up. There was no weighing of his options, nor seeing how it all went before he got involved. He had enlisted in the US Navy within a week of the attack.

Once again, very typical of the Greatest Generation. They don’t call them that for nothing, you know.