Today, of course, marks the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I say, “of course,” but for many young people now, it’s not a matter of course. It’s a matter of history, and World War II has been consigned to the distant past. That is the natural order of things, and is no reflection on them.
I, however, and all my fellow baby-boomers are grandchildren of “the War.” We had no direct experience, but it was part of our lives. The War defined our parents, coloring as it did their perspective on life and on Life. “What did you do during the War?” was a common starting point in any acquaintance. The War was like an old clock at your grandparents’ house. It had always been there and it quietly marked the time, and as grandchildren, we never really thought about it because it WAS always there. And the time it kept began on December 7, 1941.
That clock is winding down, however. It has never meant as much to our children as it does to us, and it means even less to our grandchildren. That’s the way of things. For many of us, our parents are gone. Their loves, their lives, their experiences consigned to some part of the Cosmos that, like the most distant stars, can only be glimpsed briefly out of the corner of one’s eye. When our parents died, we sorted through their effects, consigning many to the trash, but most of us kept that old clock. There is a certain rhythm in us that comes from its ticking, a steady quiet beat that we absorbed as children. When it’s time for our children to sort through our effects, however, they’ll probably see that old clock as just an old clock, and send it to the auctioneer or to the dump.
Because of my love for the music, film, and fashion of the 1940s, my younger daughter Sarah often laughingly accuses me of being out of time; of being from the wrong decade. Yet, it is she who keeps the wedding photo of her grandparents by her bed. My mom in a regular dress; my dad in his sailor’s uniform before he shipped out aboard the USS Gleaves, first to hunt German submarines in the Atlantic and then to escort larger ships in the Pacific. Perhaps Sarah, sees a couple of distant stars more clearly than even she realizes. I know of several other young people who seem to respond to that ticking that marks the time of World War II. I am grateful for that and glad to know them, for while it’s natural to forget, somebody, somewhere has to keep alive the memory of a bunch of boys who saved the world.
If you’ve ever wondered what that Sunday afternoon of December 7th was like if you were simply sitting in your “parlor,” as my grandmother used to call it, listening to the radio, here is a chronology of the day from authentic history.com that includes actual news clips and other radio programming. Take a few moments and listen to some of that day. Rewind the old clock so that it ticks for at least a few minutes.