REPOSTED ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY - DECEMBER 7, 2011
Sixty-eight years ago, my Uncle Harry T. Collins awoke to find the U.S. Fleet under attack at Pearl Harbor. He, like every other sailor there, went immediately to battle stations. He was on the destroyer USS Chew (DD-106). The Chew and all other ships received orders to get under way and to get out of Pearl Harbor and make for the open sea lest the entire fleet be destroyed.
Uncle Harry said it was utter chaos that day. Battleship Row was the central target and the Japanese torpedo bombers were concentrating on them. The ones in bold below were sunk.
US NAVY Battleships (BB) Pennsylvania (BB-38) (in drydock) Arizona (BB-39) Nevada (BB-36) Oklahoma(BB-37) Tennessee (BB-43) California (BB-44) Maryland (BB-46) West Virginia (BB-48)
Uncle Harry survived Pearl Harbor, after the war he returned to St. Louis and had a distinguised career with the St. Louis Police Department and later in his retirement years, he worked with Boys Town Of Missouri in St. James and here in St. Louis.
Every year he went to the Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial Ceremony. In recent years, they tossed a Wreath Of Remembrance to honor their fallen comrades on the waters of the Misssissippi River below the Gateway Arch.
Sailors know that all waters flow to the sea and that all the seas connect to the oceans. And they know that on the final day, the seas and oceans will give up their dead.
Across the Pacific in the quiet waters of Pearl Harbor another ceremony will take place today on The Arizona Memorial. On this quiet white structure are listed the names of every sailor, Marine and soldier who died in the dreadful sneak attack on that "day that will live in infamy."
Below the Memorial, the USS Arizona and many of her brave crewmen still lie entombed.
Today, the name of every person listed on the walls of the Arizona Memorial will be read aloud and they will be remembered and honored.
We visited the Memorial many years ago and it is a very serene, reverent and holy place. When you look over the side you can see the USS Arizona below.
Oil still seeps from the USS Arizona. Her heart still bleeds for all the brave men and women who took the first blow against the United States in World War II.
Today, we all need to set aside some quiet time to remember what happened 68 years ago today. And, if you are lucky enough to have had a Pearl Harbor Survivor in your family, please hold them foremost in your thoughts today.
To my late Uncle Harry and to his cohorts, I'd just like to say that you will always have the thanks and honor of a grateful Nation. The oil that still seeps from the Arizona will not let us forget Sunday, December 7, 1941.
And let us not forget the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States Of America who are protecting our lives and liberty at his very hour around the world.
Birk, Commonsensetarian and Citizen Of The Republic