To The Sun:
Many years ago on Dec. 7, I drove by the Municipal Building on Broadway and saw there was no decoration on the World War II memorial. I thought about the Gold Star Mothers who had raised the money and had it built after the war ended.
I could only remember a few. There weren’t many, thank God. The club members were mothers whose sons had given their lives for us and our country in the war. None could still be living now.
That day I went home, found a fir wreath, wired a red bow on it and without asking for approval placed it in front of the tall monument.
Why would anyone object? For over 30 years, I’ve continued to dig the dusty old wreath out of the garage, hose it down, plump up the bow and return it on Dec. 7. The motto for those years was “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Though I was just 13, memories from that day are burned into my brain.
I went to church. My dad had to work so my mother said I could invite my friend, Alice Pefley, for lunch. After eating, we were sitting on the floor playing Monopoly and listening to the very popular show, “The Shadow.” Suddenly, the show was interrupted and the shocking news was announced. The Japanese had bombed the harbor where our five finest battleships were moored. Thousands of sailors, airmen and civilians were killed. The same morning, two Japanese ambassadors were in Washington, D.C., signing some sort of peace documents.
My mom reminded me that my cousin Eddie, Army Air Corps, had just arrived in Manila where he and a few hundred others sat waiting for airplanes to be made. Sadly, they never arrived.
A week before we had received a letter and two Japanese kimonos with gold dragons. My mother, that day, cut the eyes out of hers.
Within days, I think we read the airmen had to flee Manila, but were captured by the Japanese and forced to march, prodded by bayonets, through the Philippine jungle to camps. This is known as the Bataan Death March. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was rescued from this scene and promised “I shall return.” And he did, three years later. Not soon enough for Eddie. He died months later in a P.O.W. camp on Cebu Island of beriberi we learned four years later.
After a while, friend Alice said, “I’d better go home. My brother (Richard Pefley) is on the Oklahoma, maybe in Pearl Harbor.”
And, in fact, he was. He was badly injured and hospitalized for weeks, but news came slowly.
I get angry when I hear our leaders speak casually about going to war, sending troops here or there as if they are playing with toy soldiers, not live people sworn to obey them.
I still remember Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 because I can’t NOT remember Pearl Harbor. -— DONNA SEELEY, Parsons