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Re-branding Pearl Harbor anniversary for a new generation

Discussion in 'WWII' started by Tiki Tom, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Now with concerts, basketball games, and movie nights!

    “The activities, which began Dec. 1 and take place over 11 days, are meant to draw younger generations to an event rapidly fading into the nation’s distant memory. Fewer of the survivors, now at least in their 90s, are able to gather. “We certainly need to honor and pay tribute to these veterans, but we also want to educate the current generation and next generation about this important history,” said retired Navy Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, chairman of the 75th Commemoration Committee."


    I almost titled this thread "re-marketing Pearl Harbor anniversary for a new generation", but thought that might be a bit too cynical. I get it: it has been 75 years since Pearl Harbor was attacked and perhaps some in the youngest generation no longer fully recognize the name or the events. Pearl Harbor is now, perhaps, transitioning to the dreaded category of "ancient, dusty history." So it is maybe necessary to spark the younger generations attention (and curiosity) with concerts and sporting events. Time marches on. Nonetheless, I hope a bit of solemnity is retained.
    M Hatman likes this.
  2. Sad to say, most young people today are about three generations removed from the World War II generation. While many of us had parents, grandparents and uncles from that generation the only family connection to the Greatest Generation for most Millenials are perhaps a great-grandfather or great-uncle whom they've either never met or were too young to remember.
    M Hatman and Kirk H. like this.
  3. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    I'm not to sure about that, there is still one daughter of a Civil War veteran alive. So there must be some young people who are only Grand children of WWII veterans.
    M Hatman likes this.
  4. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    Just relized, next year, we will be as removed from 1967, as we were in 1967 from the USA entry into WWI!
    M Hatman likes this.
  5. It will certainly be interesting to see how it is remembered going forward. Last Easter (2016), I attended several events marking the centeenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, an event largely (and fairly, in retrospect, though noone would have believed it until maybe four years later or more) considered to be the birth of the state of the Republic of Ireland as exists today. One of the best bits was the final part of the exhibition in the GPO on O'Connell Street (a fantastic exhibition which covers the events of Easter week 1916 beautifully objectively and from all angles), which looked at how all the anniversaries were marked, from the 10th, 20th, 50th, et al right up to the 100th, putting them in the context not only of the Rsiing's political significance, but how the manner in wehich it was viewed varied over time according to the contemporsary situation. It occurred to me that lots of significant events, like Pearl Harbour, could be considered in the same way. For the English, Dunkirk is a fascinating one: a serious military thrashing which even today is still viewed the way the government of the time span it, as a great triumph for all those plucky little ships getting peope out of France. In general, I think we learn from celebratory events like these as much about the times in which we live as we do about the event being commemorated.
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  6. You don't even have to start with Millennials. There are still a lot of Americans in their fifties and sixties who believe that World War II "began" with Pearl Harbor, and have little or no understanding of the course of Japanese militarism that led up to it. I've explained the invasion of Manchuria and the butchering of Nanking and the American boycotts of Japanese goods in the late thirties to people my own age who had no idea such things had happened. Isolating the Pearl Harbor incident from its historical context gives the student about as useful an understanding of what it actually was as would standing up on a platform, waving a flag, and singing a verse and two choruses of "You're A Sap, Mr. Jap."
    M Hatman, Redshoes51, Kirk H. and 3 others like this.
  7. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    Remember the Panay!
  8. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Last night I rode the Rock Island train out of Chicago's La Salle Street Station with a friend, a federal judge and former Marine helicopter pilot
    who showed me a book about a Pearl Harbor survivor that his wife gifted for Christmas. I had grabbed a Miller Lite to go at a nearby pub
    and tried to one-hand the book; without much success, so I listened to his recounting the story of a sailor who climbed a rope off the Arizona.
    He put the book back inside his briefcase promising to lateral it to me later. Even ancient, dusty history continues to bear elegiac receptive testament.:)
    M Hatman, ChiTownScion and AmateisGal like this.
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    My mother-in-law, still living, claims that when she was a little girl, all she ever heard being discussed was The War, meaning The Civil War. In places, that's still true. For me, it was The Other War, meaning WWII. The ones who talked about it the most hadn't been in the service. For those who had, it was sort of a case of Been there, done that. They were too busy with their own lives at the moment to be professional veterans. These days, perhaps depending on where you live or other things, it's even difficult to find someone who ever served in the armed forces. I did and so did my son, my father, my son-in-law, my son-in-law's father, my son-in-law's grandmother (RAF) and my wife's 1st cousin's husband. There was also the radical priest in the family who was an army engineer officer who later sold dynamite before going to the seminary. But where I work, only one other person has been in the service.

    Do you suppose people were lamenting how WWI was going to be forgotten 30 years ago? The "radical priest's" father served in WWI in the ambulance corps. I think it runs in the family.
  10. The attitude toward WW1 in the interwar years was interesting -- the only "professional veterans" were those who belonged to the American Legion, and even there, it was a small subset of the whole. Most of the men who'd actually been in combat were brutally cynical about it -- they'd scoff at medals, at patriotic ortations on Armistice Day, and if pressed, would declare that the entire experience was a pointless waste of lives and that America -- "good old Uncle Sucker" -- had been swindled into participating by profiteering industrialists out to make a killing selling armaments. This was, overwhelmingly, the opinion of the Average American well into the 1930s -- that the war had been a foolish, stupid mistake from which no one profited except the big shots -- a view only exacerbated by the Depression, in which the "Forgotten Man" was usually depicted as an embittered, angry veteran who'd put his life on the line for nothing, and was tossed aside like an old boot once the war was over.
    M Hatman likes this.
  11. AdeeC

    AdeeC Practically Family

  12. My dad had a real attitude against joining the American Legion or the VFW. His attitude was, why should he have to address some clown as "Captain Doe" simply for what he had done decades ago? He witnessed a lot of horror in that war, and it was over before his 21st birthday. I think the idea of non- combatant hanger-ons trying to vicariously experience what he did might have been an issue, but he never actually came out and said that. I think that he was a man who'd seen enough of the military and just wanted to get on with his life.

    Lizzie mentioned the American Legion: how they determine eligibility for membership has always been more or less determined by their need for increased membership. For World War I vets the formula was logical: one day of active duty service from the time the US declared war until November 11, 1918. For World War II vets, the service requirement was extended well beyond the Japanese surrender to December 31, 1946. And while the Korean War armistice went into effect on July 27, 1953, military service up to January 31, 1955 qualifies you- per the Legion- as a "Korean War vet."

    I myself confess to mixed feelings myself about the organization, and I think that my Dad and a lot of other World War II vets saw it as well. I truly admire the work that the Legion, the VFW, VVA, and other veteran groups do and does on behalf of veterans and assuring that those who have served get that to which they've earned. Seeing that vets get the health services that they need, and the educational opportunities that they've earned, etc., is clearly a necessary force for good. However, there does exist the issue of the Legion pushing arbitrarily determined standards of "Americanism" on the rest of us, starting in the 1920's and continuing to this present day. (Perhaps Lizzie can comment more on this- from the Centralia Massacre of 1919 onward.) They certainly do have the right under the First Amendment to pump the God & Country bilge to their hearts' content, but it can be counterproductive and authoritarian. Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC, recipient of two Medals of Honor, said as much in the 1930's- and I wholeheartedly concur today.
    Edward likes this.
  13. From the mid-twenties into WWII, the Legion was the closest thing we had to an American Fascisti. The organization had very close ties to the National Association of Manufacturers and various hard-right Catholic groups, and routinely hired out its members as strikebreakers and thugs to corporations looking to put the fear of the blackjack or brass knuckles into labor organizers. During the "fifth column" scare of 1940-41, the Legion took the lead in terrorizing -- and there is no other word than "terrorizing" that fits -- any citizen that didn't kowtow to the flag in exactly the way the Legion believed they should.

    No more than 25 percent of the American men who saw active duty in the AEF ever belonged to the Legion, but to hear them tell it, they were the all-time Judge, Jury, and Executioner for what it mean to be "100 Percent American." By their actions in the interwar period they dishonored everything they claimed to represent.
    ChiTownScion likes this.
  14. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    The same phenomenon occurred in other countries to a greater or lesser extent, Germany in particular. And it happened well before WWI, too, with the Grand Army of the Republic. There were southern veteran's organizations as well. Earlier, the best known organization was the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of Revolutionary War officers and their male descendants. It's still going strong, too. All of these organizations seem to try to outdo one another in being patriotic, as they define the word. It is probably through the influence of these organizations that we have come to idolize the flag, with the pledge, which was made even more sacred by the inclusion of "under God" decades after it was introduced. But we aren't a monarchy and we don't have crowns, so I guess we have to have something to worship.

    Defining what it means to be a "true American" is still an issue in public life here. Liberty or freedom doesn't enter into the matter.
    ChiTownScion likes this.
  15. Dunkirk, the evacuation event, was a glowing success. The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of troops over a great distance, and overwhelmingly by "little boats", at least in getting off the beach.

    Don't confuse the event itself with the stupidity of the background leading up to it - the stationing of those same hundreds of thousands of troops in France in face of the German onslaught.

    A failure leading to success, if you will!
  16. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    But if they had stopped the Germans, it wouldn't have been so stupid, would it? They (and the French) did in 1914. The only mystery is why the Germans invaded to begin with.
  17. The forces deployed were too little and too late. The German offensive was simply overwhelming.

    A smaller scale thing happened during the defence of Hong Kong. Britain had large numbers of troops there, and Canada, eager to get in on the fight, sent two regiments with barely trained troops - The Royal Rifles from Quebec and the Winnipeg Grenadiers plus headquarters, only 2000 troops in total. Their vehicles never arrived as the US merchant ship transporting them was diverted to Manila.

    Comparing this event to Dunkirk - the British and Canadians were expected by the Japanese to fall in five days. They lasted nearly three weeks, inflicting casualties on the Japanese in far greater than expected numbers. It was in part for this that the Japanese inflicted great hardship on the PWs taken, and they took a dim view of PWs in the first place, considering them dishonourable.

    So, you have small numbers to defend against huge opposition. Not a great starting point, and at least an argument to be made that failure to take precautions resulted in large losses.

    However, this did not take away from the gallantry and effectiveness of those present. In other words, the failure of government and leadership did not take away from incredible feats of the soldiers.

    In France, the forces deployed were simply no match numerically for the Germans. Even without hindsight, it was simply untenable for Britain and France to think they could halt the Blitzkrieg.

    Having said that, the evacuation made the best of a bad situation, and it was, in fact not myth, an incredible undertaking.
    M Hatman likes this.
  18. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    Yet the British never give credit to General Molinié and his mostly North African troops completely cut off, held Erwin Rommel's Ghost division up for a vital four days, saving an estimated 100,000 allied troops at Dunkirk. And still later, French and Scottish troops under the command of the French, fought a brave rear action, allowing the British troops to cut and run. The defeat did not end there, thousands of British troops upon returning to their home soil, threw their rifles out the train windows and went home. There were only two complete divisions left in the UK, Canadians! Any more victories like Dunkirk and the UK would have been Kaput.
  19. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    According to one source, the Germans had only 50,000 more troops than the allies but the allies had about 50% more guns and tanks than the Germans, all of which were of equal or superior quality, though not without shortcomings. The fighting in France did not cease with Dunkirk, either. Of course, France still fell--to the Germans, the Italians having little effect on the outcome. But to say the forces deployed were too few simply cannot be true. The main reasons for the loss were strategic errors on the part of the allies and an unwillingness of the French government to continue fighting and suffer the sorts of casualties that occurred in WWI. The Germans had no reservations like that which was generally reflected in the latter stages of the war. While the numbers of allied troops that escaped at Dunkirk is remarkable (but no victory in any sense), it is even more remarkable to me how so many Polish soldiers managed to escape after Poland fell. I even met one who did.
  20. The EVACUATION was an incredible event. My father's war diary has one brief mention of the return - "Miraculous". I'll take his take over your "sources".

    No one called it a victory, the operation qua operation was a success. Indeed, here is what Churchill had to say in the House of Commons on 4 June:

    "We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations."

    The background, however the arm chair generals wish to fight it, was another matter. But I'll chip in from my sofa. The forces were nearly surrounded, and a delay in the Germans ordering an attack on the Dunkirk area was considered by them a strategic mistake - in other words, they had a chance to capture the entirety of the force and failed to do so.

    And I'd like to say this as the son of a Scot, Paisley born and bred as she was - there was no independent "Scottish" army in France. British army units fought with the French, and certain of those British units fought a rear action. That they happened to be from Scotland was happenstance; that they fought bravely without doubt. But, had they been from Essex or Devonshire, I suspect you wouldn't constantly be bringing them up.

    Oh, fun fact - the entirety of the British rear guard was evacuated, the last, I say again, the last 4,000 British troops departed on 3-4 June. The French had 40,000 troops captured who could not be evacuated and fought bravely to the end. The Scots were not "sacrificed".

    As for Polish figures, I can source info that they had 75,000 troops in France before the battle of France, and had about 195,000 fighting in the west by 1944 having escaped the invasion. Later in the war, their numbers rose considerably as they were "liberated" by the Soviets. Great for them, but in terms of how they "escaped", there was no comparison to the organized Dunkirk evacuation.

    In any case, no one is stopping anyone from making a movie about it!

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