Wednesday, December 7, 2016

1986, 2001, 1941

I was standing in the kitchen of our UCLA married student housing apartment on Sawtelle Blvd. The counters and sink were stainless steel and for some strange reason, that is what stands out to me the day Christa McAuliffe's chance of a lifetime, the Challenger flight, blew up in the sky. I see her parents sitting on the bleachers unable to process what they had just witnessed. I had trouble processing it too as my friend Laurie tried to explain.

We probably hung up, and I went to the television to learn the awful truth.

Years later, I was seeing the children off to school. Tony was riding the bike in the basement, the morning news on the television. He called me down after witnessing a horrendous replay of a plane hitting a tower. We watched, wondered, weeped. Could hardly imagine. The phone rang and it was another friend Rebekah who wanted to chat about something so trivial by the day's standard. I cut her off, "Do you not know?" I asked. 

"No, what?" 

I didn't have the words to explain what happened. "Turn on your TV. I'm sorry I can't talk."

She did, and I'm sure my words are embedded in her brain the same way her words are embedded in mine.

As humans, we share tragedies in strangely remembered ways. 

So, on this day of December 7, 2016, Pearl Harbor is my father's memory, and though I've referred to it before on a few different occasions, once again, it is the story I must write today.

Dad was 11 years old and was playing football at Sugarhouse Park. I can't help but wonder if he'd skipped Sunday School to run to the park and engage in a game much more exciting than the alternative. 

That would have been my dad.

When the news hit on the mainland, someone ran to the park to let the truants know the world had changed--drastically. The football game ended. Everyone went home a different child. 

Today, I read the 1941 accounts of the Pearl Harbor bombing. Once again, I was saddened by the facts of a horrible day, a horrible war. There were new stories (for me), today: a group of Japanese Americans who were bombed out of a cafe by friendly fire. Veterans, one 97 years old, who gathered to pour bourbon in the water to appease the spirits. I cringed when I read the attack as "brilliant." 

One line however, settled gently into my thoughts: We are celebrating 70 years of peace with Japan.

It's that emphasis that brought hope amidst the tragedy of remembering.