The Night Before That Infamous Day

Yes, it’s almost here, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I’ll have a special post for y’all tomorrow, but rather than dwell on the sadness and loss, I thought I’d give you some of the … less negative? more positive? … facts about that notorious December 7th. For instance:

Of the eight battleships that were docked in Pearl that morning, only two ended up being total writeoffs. Obviously, the USS ArizonaĀ  still lies on the bottom of the harbour. The USS Oklahoma capsized, and was later refloated and deemed too damaged to recover. She was hauled off for scrap, but sank while under tow, somewhere between Hawaii and San Francisco. Two other ships, USS California and USS West Virginia, sank in water shallow enough to be re-floated, repaired, and returned to service. (Personally, I would include the USS Utah, which also sank and was left on the bottom. While she was classified as a Gunnery Training Ship – AG-16 – at the time of the attack, she retained her original name at commissioning, as battleship, BB-31.)

There was a massive fuel storage facility at Pearl, as well as extensive ship repair and submarine servicing facilities. None of these were touched, allowing the remnants of the Pacific Fleet to be repaired and fueled, and most crucially, allowing the US submarine fleet to cripple the Japanese war effort by sinking their merchant shipping.

Several smaller ships, including two destroyers, were damaged so badly, the navy was going to write them off as irreparably damaged. All were repaired and brought back into service. In addition, another destroyer, USS Shaw, had her bows blown completely off the ship, but was repaired and back in service by July 1942.

Along with the fortunate ships inside Pearl that lived to fight again were the only three US aircraft carriers, who were luckily out of port on that Sunday morning. If those carriers had been lost, we would not have had the forces necessary to stop the Japanese attempting an invasion of Australia a few months later. Considering the significant support of Australia in both manpower and machines, the battle to defeat the Japanese would have been almost unimaginably more difficult.

In closing, let me just say that what I listed above should in NO way minimise the tragedy and loss during the attack. Almost half of all US casualties at Pearl Harbor were suffered by the crew of poor Arizona. I just wanted to show that, despite our grievous losses, good fortune and a cautious Japanese admiral leading the attacking fleet, not to mention truly heroic sacrifices among the American sailors, kept a terrible loss from becoming a horrific defeat. As the last of the survivors leave us, it is up to every American to carry the stories forward, and as one of the US War Bond sales drive proclaimed, “Remember Pearl Harbor!”.

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Posted in Military, Military History | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Knock.

It was just an ordinary day,
Going along in an ordinary way.
But all of it fell apart,
Stopped the beat of my heart
With that single knock upon the door.

When a soldier goes off to war
He leaves behind many more.
Parents, siblings, especially a wife,
A hope for a long and loving life
Until that single knock upon the door.

Too stunned to speak, too sad to cry.
I couldn’t even wonder why
There was no one in olive drab,
Just a driver in a yellow cab
With a telegram and a knock upon the door.

How could this ever come to pass
That all the Army’s highest brass
Had planned the battle start to end
But hadn’t even thought to send
A chaplain to come and knock upon the door?

So now I sit with my son on my knee
A boy his father will never see.
Lost in a war far across the sea,
He will never come home to his boy and me.
And he will never again knock upon the door.

Posted in Military, Poetry | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Last Clown.

In Aleppo
The Last Clown dies.
A child cries.
A city dies.

We hear leaders’ sighs
And their failed tries.
When will they realise
That a city isn’t a prize?
Are we all so unwise
That we watch a city’s demise
While listening to lies
Without shock or surprise?

And yet, in Aleppo,
Through azure skies,
A lone bomb flies.
And … the Last Clown dies.

Posted in Current Events, Poetry | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my readers in the US, here’s wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. And even if you’re in another country, take a few minutes out on Thursday, and:

Be thankful for what you have.
Be hopeful for the future.
Cherish the past (I got quite the reminder that I’ll share in a week or so).
Hug a friend – even if he does support Donald Trump. (Hey, Tommy! C’mere! :D)

And may you all have a wonderful, love-filled, family-gathered day! (Or if you hate your in-laws, there’s some good marathons on SyFy Channel and BBC America! šŸ˜‰ )

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A Four-Year Miracle.

The wife was going through old posts on her cellphone this evening, and discovered an old post about our “old man” cat Stryper. He’s been with us for four years. Miracle? Well, at the time he showed up, this old cat was literally just skin and bones, and was suffering from a severe respiratory infection. We weren’t sure he’d make it through the night, but when he did, we hauled him off to the vet the next day. The vet discovered he also had FIV (feline AIDS, basically), and gave him a maximum – a MAXIMUM – of 72 hours to live. He was so certain the cat would die, when he saw my wife at Wal-Mart a week later, he tried to carefully ask how the cat was doing, fearful Stryper had died. He was absolutely stunned to hear the cat was still alive, and hoped he would at least survive through the holidays for us.

So here we are, four years later. Stryper is still rather skinny, but he can raise hell with the rest of the cats. He’s still half-blind and half-deaf (more so when it’s convenient for him to not hear a correction), still FIV-positive, and still going. He’s lived more years than the vet gave him days to survive, and shows no sign of slowing down. So, a miracle? Well, an old, starving, half-deaf half-blind half-DEAD cat, chucked from a car (quite literally), found his way onto the porch of one of only two bleeding-heart animal lovers in a 5-mile radius. Call it what you will – he’ll always be my Old Man, keeping this old man going.

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Welcome To Trump’s America.

I have tried to keep my blog apolitical. I have not attacked anyone for their beliefs, and have been equally kind (I hope) to right and left alike when I have brought up politics (as in my post about having to end this blog, which I am doing all I can NOT to end). But when this headline comes in from multiple, reliable sources, I’m sorry, but I need to vent.

Go Google “Gold Star family of slain Calif. soldier booed on flight for deplaning first”. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

You want to deride “Black Lives Matter”? Okay, I can deal with ignorance. You want to claim the illegal immigrants are taking all our jobs? Fine, wait ’til the wall is up, then watch all the office park lawns go to seed (not to mention most golf courses), and that’s just for starters. But to jeer the family of a slain soldier for deplaning first, when they are going to retrieve the body of their dead son?!?

Welcome to “Hooray For Me, Screw You” Land. The United States of Trump. And if you think this is just a one-off occurrence, or just some “bad apples”, you’ll be proven wrong many times over the next very, VERY long four years.

Sorry, my Republican friends, but I cannot stand by and let veterans’ families be treated like this. Leave me if you must, but please don’t try to write this off. This is a warning sign, and ESPECIALLY Republicans should be condemning this kind of action.

Sorry to ruin your Monday, everybody. I’ll try to come up with something lighter in a day or two to make up for it. Happy Monday of Thanksgiving week (for all my US readers, just a plain Happy Monday to the rest of y’all)!

Posted in Current Events, Military, Politics | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Conundrums.

How, in the darkest of nights, can you find a shining light?

How can you kill in wrath and vengeance, only to find love?

How can two great being’s end be the start of a wondrous future?

I saw it, many years ago, and I still remember. Two great warriors, representing the last of their families, a pair of lifelong enemies, united on a cold black night. They stood on the castle wall, lone figures in a sea of flames and blood. They argued, one refusing their mutual end, the other pleading for it. And finally, when hope was all but gone, one of them struck the other dead. A silence fell, thick as the blanket of night around them.

But then, what I can only describe as magic stunned all wordless. In that darkest of nights, a brilliant light shone in the heavens. At that horrible ending, both found new life and new purpose. He who survived, who had not lived but merely existed for decades, found his lifeĀ  again. He who died did not vanish, but became a beacon for all eternity, a fixture in the heavens and the peoples’ hearts, to guide them when needed, for all eternity.

I think now, of those two great beings. Though lost in the annals of time, both stand out as beacons, proof that even on the darkest nights you can find a glorious beacon, and that even the most lost soul can once again find both his path and himself. Most importantly, they stand as proof that the most dire enemies can come together, and forge a friendship that outshines time itself.

Dedicated to the Knight of The Old Code, who found a place, once again, for chivalry; and to Draco, who found his place, not just among, but in the lead of his fellows’ souls.

Posted in Poetry, Romance | Tagged | 3 Comments