by Allison Perkins
My son’s due date haunted me.
This was my first baby. A little boy. He was our joy. Then, we learned his due date.
The doctor excitedly told me it was Dec. 7.
“That’s a heck of a birthday,” I said. The doctor was unfazed.
“December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day,” I said.
“Oh yes, yes that,” he said. Without emotion. Without hesitation. Almost without recognition.
Roosevelt declared it to be a day which would live in infamy.
Just before 8 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941, 181 Japanese bombers and fighters launched an aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, home to the U.S. Pacific fleet. A second wave of firepower came nearly 30 minutes later.
When the smoke cleared, 2, 403 people were dead, 21 U.S. ships were sunk or damaged, 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed and another 159 were damaged.
As the doctor calculated my son’s possible birthday, then 61 years after the attacks, my heart dropped. How could we celebrate such a joyous occasion on such a horrific day?
Nine years later, our youngest daughter was born. When the doctor scheduled my induction, he announced that I should report to the hospital on Sept. 11.
Again, my heart sank. Again, there was no emotion, no hesitation in his voice. It was just another day.
But it wasn’t.
Another early morning attack. More Americans, 2,819 in all, dead.
It was a day, we all promised, we would never forget.
This week, America marks the 70th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. This unforgettable moment in time, seems somehow, forgotten.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association is now so few in numbers that the group will officially disband on Dec. 31. It is rare to find an elementary school or American town that pauses to mark the day when the U.S. officially entered the war in the Pacific.
The number of survivors who are able to visit community centers and retell their incredible stories of attack and survival has dwindled to a handful.
As they disappear, so it seems, does America’s willingness to fulfill our promise to never let their memory fade.
Please take a moment to pause this week to remember America’s veterans, of Pearl Harbor and fights throughout the years. Be thankful for their sacrifices. Be grateful for their service.
In the end, neither of our children’s birthdays landed on Dec. 7 or Sept. 11, despite the doctors’ predictions. But I don’t need a family milestone to remind me to pause and thank those who lost their lives those days.
I will never forget. Will you?