(The local news gets personal.)

Our local television news decided to run a feature story on the USS Utah today.  They showed the Utah,  the Utah being blown up at Pearl Harbor, and a little of the museum they made out of its wreckage.

This 07 December 1941 file photo obtaine

Now,  the USS Utah is the ship my grandpa served on in World War One!    After its service it was taken to Pearl Harbor and used for bomb and torpedo sightings, where my uncle was stationed at the time.      But the Japanese are the ones who actually sunk it.

Afterwards  it was put to rights –


My grandpa enlisted in the Navy when he was 18 years old.  

My dad enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17 years old.

When I was 18 and even when I was 17,  I didn’t think there was anything remarkable about those ages . . .   it sure felt old enough.   After all,  I was leaving home and going away to college and to  a job and new home of my own.

But a few decades later I had a son.

You want to know why there are all those paintings of the Madonna and Child?  All those Christmas cards with the Madonna and Child?


It’s because a woman looks on in wonder as her son grows up to be a man.    But!    Her son lives in her heart in all the ages he ever was,  including the most tender  and innocent stage of his being.    The wondrous person her little son started out to be,  with all its promise and hope;  yes, he grows up,   but the love began at his beginning and it never fades.

So when my son became 17 and then 18 years old,   and I thought of my dad and my grandpa at that age,  signing up to go to war . . .    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

It is unthinkable!

Whew!   We’ve had no wars where mothers must  make this sacrifice. . . .

And now a little story:    I heard an author on the radio last night who had just written a new book on Pearl Harbor.   He said he did all his own original research for the book, so it could be a clear and new as possible.

Among the interviews he read (and conducted)  was a man who had been at Pearl Harbor.    The man said most of the officers were sleeping that early morning of December 7th  on shore,  but the men on the ships were the very young sailors.    The author  said he hadn’t realized how   young that  group of men were who  served on those ships,  young and innocent and unsophisticated.

He said it was a Wally Cleaver world!


Wally Cleaver

I do hope you are familiar with the older brother of the Beave,    in Leave it to Beaver.  Wally was a typical teenager of his times,   good, sincere,  open to the world,  a little bit on the klutzy edge of approaching adulthood.     A real guy.

Echoing the attitude of Wally Cleaver,   this interviewee of the author of the new Pearl Harbor book said,  after watching the ships blowing up,  “Gee,  we didn’t even know the Japs were sore at us!!”

Why was Japan mad at us?    Why would they bomb us?

Well, there are all kinds of “grown-up”  theories about why Pearl Harbor happened.  We may never know the complete truth,  but we do know that many, many, many of these very young men,  teenagers,   learned how to fight hard for their country and many, many died.

It’s a heck of a way to grow up into manhood.






Explore posts in the same categories: Childhood, WWI, WWII

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