Monday, December 7, 2009

That Infamous Day

Magnet # 111: USS Arizona Memorial Photo

Material: Laminated Paper

Purchased by: Ronnie

I guess pretty much everyone is familiar with the notorious act perpetrated on this day back in 1941, when the Japanese delivered a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. They had planned for their declaration of war to have reached the United States by then, but that didn't happen. It was the first time in over a century that a foreign power had attacked the United States on our soil, and it shocked the entire nation. We have yet to recover fully from this blow, as it is still remembered in countless ceremonies around the nation. Here in Savannah, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum held a ceremony yesterday to honor those we lost at Pearl Harbor.

Although I have quite a few magnets from Hawaii because of all of my Dad's travels there, it wasn't until I started this blog that I realized I didn't have one from Pearl Harbor. Oddly enough, a colleague at my office had recently mentioned he was going to the state and asked if I wanted him to pick up any magnets. I said no thanks - I knew my Dad would be going again soon. But then I realized that December 7th was fast approaching and Dad would not be heading over before then. So I shot a hasty email over to my colleague, who was already there, not even knowing if he was in the right part of the state to get the magnet. Turns out he was and he was even planning on touring the memorial. And not knowing what I'd like best, he brought me back not just one magnet but two - awesome! This one is a particularly interesting magnet. It combines an image of the sinking of the USS Arizona with one featuring the memorial structure that has been built around its wreckage. It's a jarring juxtaposition of our loss and how we've remembered it. The creator of this image was able to remind us of the terrible events of that day and give us hope for the future in a way few magnets - or pictures - can.

As the events that occurred on this day are pretty well-known, I thought I would share a lesser known bit of trivia that ties into Pearl Harbor. It's a fact I learned while reading The Grim Reaper's Book of Days, a compilation by Ed Morrow that features noteworthy deaths throughout history, each tied in with a calendar date. It's a fascinating read - there are all sorts of trivia, humor, and simply disturbing facts included in this book. I recommend it, but perhaps in moderation. On this day, it tells of an event that happened years after the attack, when a son of one of the men killed there bought a VCR from the Japanese electronic company Sony. You can imagine his shock when he consulted the guidebook to learn how to program it to tape, and the example date was set on December 7! Sony apologized, but no one can be sure whether or not it was a deliberate act.

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