bcms.leesummit.k12.mo.us7-3bcmslaReflectionjour by yurtgc548


									Early in the morning of December 7,
1941, Japanese submarines and carrier-
based planes attacked the U.S. Pacific
fleet at Pearl Harbor. Nearby military
airfields were also attacked by the
Japanese planes. Eight American
battleships and 13 other naval vessels
were sunk or badly damaged, almost 200
American aircraft were destroyed, and
approximately 3,000 naval and military
personnel were killed or wounded. The
attack marked the entrance of Japan into
World War II on the side of Germany and
Italy, and the entrance of the United
States on the Allied side.
On the anniversary of this attack, survivors
Mr. Fritcher and Mr. Duffy, surrounded by
other survivors, their children and their
grandchildren, then commenced an
impromptu seminar on war and
remembrance. They explained what it was
like when warplanes painted with the Rising
Sun streaked in low across Pearl Harbor and
dropped torpedoes that made their battleship,
in the words of Mr. Fritcher, "jump around
like a top on a hardwood floor."
Their chatty seminar may not have been as
precise or authoritative as the scholarly
conference sessions held at Pearl Harbor,
which detailed how the Japanese raid burned
and drowned and blew apart 2,390
Americans, destroyed much of the Pacific
Fleet and pushed the United States into war.
The Texan and the Iowan neglected to
explain why Pearl Harbor became a defining
moment in world history or how it goaded
the United States into becoming the planet's
pre-eminent power.
Instead, they told of how their minds were
imprinted with the sight of paint flowing like
water off the superheated bulkhead of a
flaming battleship. They talked about how
their consciences were seared by watching
their friends catch fire in burning oil and die
screaming. Mr. Duffy said he had always
been frozen up inside because of what he saw
here 60 years ago.
Mr. Fritcher and Mr. Duffy, without ever
meeting or noticing each other, had managed
not to die together, not only at Pearl Harbor,
when the California went down, but also
during the invasion of Guadalcanal. Both
served there aboard the cruiser Astoria,
which the Japanese sank at about 2 a.m. on
Aug. 9, 1942.
The Texan and the Iowan jumped off the
flaming cruiser and spent the night in the
Solomon Sea as sharks, excited by the blood
of the wounded, picked off their shipmates.
Mr. Fritcher, who was shot up with shrapnel
and grabbed a life jacket before he jumped,
was in the water for 10 hours. Mr. Duffy
treaded water for five hours without the
benefit of a life jacket. He was reported
missing in action, but the government figured
out he was not dead after just one day.
This was Mr. Duffy's third Pearl Harbor
reunion. He came the first two times, for the
25th and 50th reunions, with a group of
survivors from northern Iowa. Now, he said,
his buddies are dead or unable to travel.
He traveled this time with his 54- year-old
son, John, and daughter-in- law, Paula. They
carried around a thick album of photographs,
Navy documents, news clippings and two
telegraphs from a rear admiral — one that
said he was missing, another that said he had
been found.
"My son didn't realize all I went through, but
now he is gung-ho," Mr. Duffy said. "He
knows my record better than I do."
About 1,100 veterans of World War II die
every day, according to the Department of
Veterans Affairs.
The events of remarkable times call
  upon people of all stripes to be
   remarkable. To you, what is

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