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On This December 7th

December 7, 2001 Columns No Comments

Thoughts on this December 7th

by Andrew Flynn

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the “date that will live in infamy” – the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Sadly, while the date has lost some of the stature of other days of remembrance in recent years (this year’s most notable media spotlight was originally targeted on the video release of Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pearl Harbor epic), the events of September 11th have amplified the solemnity of this occasion back to the appropriate level.

While the nation is slowly rebuilding both infrastructure and our trust in our everyday freedoms, there are reminders everywhere of what we have, in recent years, taken for granted. Most visible are the American flags that adorn the uniforms of our sports teams. Less visible but equally powerful is the elevation of our Fire and Police Departments back to the hero status they enjoyed in the simpler times of previous generations. But also there has been honor bestowed upon another long-deserving band of heroes that have served our country courageously and honorably. Tonight I will be meeting several of these heroes.

Living in Arizona, Pearl Harbor is a little closer to home. As many recall, the USS Arizona’s sinking resulted in the highest casualty rate of the 1941 attack – 1,177 sailors perished from the Japanese nation’s attack. However it was a different nation that supplied America with the heroes that were honored earlier this year – the Code Talkers of the Navajo Nation.

For those that aren’t familiar with the exploits of the Navajo Code Talkers, a brief overview. Formed shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, young Navajo men in the American Southwest were indoctrinated into the Marines to serve as communication specialists. These soldiers spoke in code freely in their native Navajo language, a language that perhaps only 30 non-Navajos in the world could understand. Most importantly, the Japanese were not able to break the code over the course of the war in the Pacific, and the Navajo Code Talkers were credited with making the capture of Iwo Jima possible. Noted film director John Woo has completed production of “Windtalkers”, starring Nicholas Cage, which will portray some of the difficult situations overcome by the Code Talkers and their Marine units.

Tonight, the Pueblo Grande Museum here in Phoenix is honoring many of these men that were recognized by President Bush with the Congressional Gold and Silver Medals. While we all feel a debt of gratitude towards our modern-day heroes responding to the attack on America September 11th, it will be an honor to personally thank the men that fought along side our grandfathers, ensured our freedoms and way of life for the last three generations, and apologize for just recently recognizing their contributions.

On this anniversary of Pearl Harbor, let us remember the sacrifices made to ensure our enjoyment of trivialities such as college basketball.

Andrew Flynn
Managing Editor

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