Friday, December 07, 2007

Three for Pearl Harbor Day

By Walter Haan, www.war-books.com

Today, December 7th is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. How many Americans will actually remember what happened on this day in 1941 is probably minuscule. As the years go by, those who will remember what happened on 9/11 in 2001 will decline too.

It is too bad because we learn from history, but if we don't remember history, we are doomed to repeat mistakes made in the past. Like not heeding warnings about the Pearl Harbor disaster from our Allies, such as the Dutch in Indonesia and a Korean spy by the name of Haan. I kind of like that a man with my name attempted to thwart the Japanese attack. Or like attacking a nation our leaders swore were responsible for the attacks on 9/11. Whoops, turned out that wasn't true. Our President and Vice President lied to us.

If you are interested in history, I'd like to recommend two books and one DVD related to Pearl Harbor Day. One of the books is from Turner Publishing Company: Historic Photos of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Text and captions by Matthew Gilmore, published in 2007 (ISBN: 978-1-59652-400-2). The second book is from Southfarm Press: Till War Do Us Part, by Frank and Mary Bogart, published in 1995 (ISBN: 978-0-913337-24-0). The DVD is the Dutch documentary, The Battle of The Java Sea, An Epic of WWII, 1996.

Franklin Roosevelt was one of our greatest presidents, one of our greatest wartime presidents. He probably knew that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was coming and kept quiet about it to provide an excuse for the US to join the Allies in World War II. Putting that aside, his leadership during the war, his surrounding himself with extremely able aides such as General George Marshall and his putting his health at risk to do his job are admirable. That is why Historic Photos of Franklin Roosevelt is an important book. Through hundreds of large, one page photos, it illustrates Roosevelt from a child until his death and shows us visually how this great leader grew in American soil. This is a coffee table book that you can't help picking up off that table and would make a great Christmas gift. $39.95, www.turnerpublishing.com.

I had the pleasure of knowing Mary Bogart. My wife and I stayed at her home in Erwin, Tennessee in the summer of 2000 and we had published her book, written with her husband, Frank, in 1995. Frank and Mary both endured the Pearl Harbor attack. Mary was expecting Frank home that December 7th but as the Japanese planes swooped above, the first thought that popped into her head was that he probably wouldn't make it home for lunch. She didn't see him for a month. Frank was a junior officer aboard the USS Gamble, an old four-stack destroyer minelayer berthed at Pearl Harbor. His account of his little ship's battling the Japanese planes above is riveting, not only because his captain went mad during the attack and had to be removed from the ship during the attack. Mary's tale of being evacuated from Hawaii after the attack is noteworthy too: pregnant women such as Mary were assigned lower bunks on ships, for example. Till War Do Us Part is a different take on World War II in the Pacific. $17.00, www.war-books.com.

The Battle of the Java Sea on February 28, 1942 was a direct result of the Pearl Harbor attack. The Japanese had succeeded in their objective of disabling our Pearl Harbor fleet, preventing it from going to the rescue of the Americans in the Philippines, the British in Malaya and the Dutch in Indonesia. The Java Sea battle was the first naval engagement of the Pacific War. The Allied fleet was cobbled together with warships from four navies: American, British, Dutch and Australian. The Dutch two disc DVD, The Battle of the Java Sea, in Dutch, English and Japanese, with English subtitles, illustrates graphically the loss of the Allied fleet, and through interviews with veterans of the battle, we see the action enfold as ship after ship is lost. And we still see the fear on these veterans faces, in their body movements and voices, 54 years after the event. Again, this is a different take on World War II in the Pacific. $19.95, www.buzzcreek.com.

Take a moment today and imagine you are on an ancient destroyer that has lost its steering as Japanese planes rake the ship at Pearl Harbor.--Walter Haan, www.war-books.com

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