Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor Day still lives, in infamy, as does the malevolent thinking that leads to similar outrages.Yet for many it also occasions a chance to remember those who died that day – fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, and it is good to do so.
To me it is also appropriate to remember those who survived the bombing, such as my Father, and here’s why.
Remember that on the day it was attacked, December 7, 1941, the United States was not at war. Europe was, by then, afire with World War II, but as yet we had not entered into that cauldron. Now, in order to have been in the Navy at Pearl Harbor on that day you would have joined the military before that day.
When I asked my Mom how it was that Dad came to be at Pearl, she said that he had seen that war was likely and he wanted to do his part. To his everlasting credit in my eyes he became a Navy officer and was stationed on Curtis at Pearl. (He survived the war but died from injuries in an accident in 1975. Darn!)
I salute him and all the others who put the love of family and country above their own comfort, and who set aside their plans so that they might be in the service of those they loved. Jesus said there is no greater love than giving your life for someone else. That doesn’t mean you have to die, although He did, but it does mean you lay down what you want to do for the sake of someone else.
Mt. Diablo Pearl Harbor Beacon
Once again, those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area get a special memorial tonight. You may know that there is a light on the top of Mt. Diablo that was used before the war as an aircraft navigation beacon. First lit by Charles Lindbergh in 1928, it flashed every night as a signal to aircraft. However, when Pearl Harbor was bombed it was turned off so that enemy planes could not utilize it. By the time the war was over radar and electronic navigation made the light unnecessary so it was not put back into service.
But in 1963, I think, Admiral Nimitz suggested re-lighting the beacon every Pearl Harbor Day as a tribute to those who died on that day. So, once a year the light is lit and is allowed to flash all night. You have to stare at the top of Diablo for about 10 seconds and look for a bright white flash at the top. I don’t know the exact period of the flash, but keep looking. It will show up!
The beacon will flash all night long which at first may seem extravagant, but not when you compare what it is like to be in the military, away from home, night after night after night. Those nights get long, even in peacetime.
The ceremony to light it takes place in the late afternoon. The forecast is for clouds so you might not see it. I always go out and look regardless of the weather because it’s a way of honoring my Father and all who lay down their lives for us.
Perhaps we take our liberties too cheaply, but freedom is not free. Ceremonies like the Mt. Diablo Beacon help us stay alert to the cost that others, living and dead, have paid on our behalf.
In that sense, then, Happy Pearl Harbor Day.