Syndicated Columnists

We must carry memories of the Pearl Harbor attack into the future

Ray Chavez, who was believed to be the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor, was the quartermaster on the USS Condor, a Navy minesweeper, on Dec. 7, 1941. Chavez died Nov. 21, 2018, at the age of 106.
Ray Chavez, who was believed to be the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor, was the quartermaster on the USS Condor, a Navy minesweeper, on Dec. 7, 1941. Chavez died Nov. 21, 2018, at the age of 106. TNS

You realize you’re old when you can remember exactly where you were 77 years ago.

On Friday, Dec. 7, Americans will observe the anniversary of Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

The newsflash in Japan that day announced a state of war with the United States.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed it “a date which will live in infamy.” A song was soon released titled “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor.”

How could we ever forget that more than 2,400 people in all died in that tragedy? But many Americans have.

One person, Nancy Acosta, now deceased, never did forget. She was in Pearl Harbor as a 7-year-old and was ready to go to church when the action started shortly after 7 a.m. Her dad was in the military and was stationed there.

I too was 7 years old at the time and can recall that Sunday in 1941 like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the football stadium at Leon Godchaux High School in Reserve, La., with my father. I don’t remember who won the game, but I do recall Inez Madere Millet, in her band uniform, shouting to someone, “The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor!”

I remember listening to war news on the radio for the next three or four years. I remember my grandmother worrying because she had four sons serving their country.

I can still remember playing baseball in St. Peter Catholic School’s yard in 1943 when word came that one of my uncles was killed in Europe.

I remember food rationing, especially sugar and butter.

I know exactly where I was when I heard that the United States had dropped the A-bomb. I was at the Reserve Community Club swimming pool.

I remember the end of the war and the pride we Americans had. We were together. We had won the war.

Our local school board published a book right after the war recognizing the 31 men from St. John the Baptist Parish who died in the fighting. Preserving those memories for the future is important.

Let me encourage some of you who served during the war to share your experiences with our young people so they will never forget.

We have fought other wars in the past, and many men and women, unselfishly, gave their lives for our freedom. Let’s never forget the veterans.

America had always been able to pull together to fight the enemy. We were a strong and proud nation.

My concern is that we are in a war now, and it’s taking place in America. The crime rate escalates as domestic violence, gang wars and drug abuse cause overcrowded jails that continue to plague society.

Abortion on demand is legal and sexual promiscuity is running rampant. Yes, America is a war zone and we are losing the battle.

The reason is that today, we — unlike the Americans during the Second World War — refuse to come together and solve the problems that have weakened our once-great country.

We must always remember Pearl Harbor. But we must also come together and focus today on the battles we now face.

Harold Keller is founder of Get High on Life, a ministry in Reserve, La., that helps people who are struggling with substance abuse. If you have any questions or comments, write Harold Keller at Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call 985-652-8477 or email hkeller@comcast.net.

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