The anniversary of the World War II bombing of Pearl Harbor is in the news but nowhere as prolific as in my hometown of Honolulu. Men in military uniforms were casually drinking coffee as they guarded their cannons at Fort DeRussy this morning, and high school band members who will later march in the parade were swarming Waikiki in clusters as they made their way to the Hard Rock Cafe for breakfast. The town is as crowded as it will continue to be for this weekend’s Honolulu Marathon on Sunday.
The renovated Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor has interactive electronic displays as well as resident survivors who sit at card tables, ready for a live interaction with visitors – sometimes signing an autograph of a memoir. The gift shop has an extensive display of books, but none appeal to me. I prefer fiction to the shelves of historical data – not as scary as the reality, usually toned down with a little romance.
A few stories I’ve read over the years have Pearl Harbor as a minor character; my favorite is From Here to Eternity – a book by James Jones before Burt Lancaster immortalized the story on the movie screen. The book is as good as the movie, and you will see Burt Lancaster in the lines.
Herman Wouk’s Winds of War, is a family saga, made into a mini-series, and ending with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I’m a fan of Wouk, having also read the sequel War of Remembrance. Have you read it?
In Hawaii, Pearl Harbor Day is a reason to have a parade in Waikiki and celebrate the day with ceremonies at the newly refurbished World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, formerly known as the Arizona Memorial – as it still is to most visitors. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Pacific Aviation Museum is a new addition to the museum grounds. A smaller version of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the Pacific Aviation Museum focuses on World War II, with models of Japanese and American planes, and stories of heroes, including Doolittle’s famous Raiders. One of the exhibits describes a civilian incident on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack: a Honolulu lawyer and his son were flying their small private plane that morning and found themselves in the middle of the Japanese raid. When I visited, I was amazed to find that they had escaped to safety with only a few bullets in their plane.
Their unexpected adventure is documented in December 1941, a new book by Craig Shirley. Bill Burlingame includes Shirley’s book in his article for the Honolulu Star/Advertiser, listing new publications with “fresh insights and information” about this historic date. He noted however that, unfortunately, their names were misspelled in Shirley’s book – Roy Vitousek became Ray Buduick.