I was going to do a Pear Harbor Day post. I didn't.
I still see Dec 7th 1941 as a "day that will live in infamy". Not because of the Japanese, because it was the beginning of the modern welfare warfare state. I've come around to accept that much of the spirit of the historical revisionists are correct about the causes of WWII and WWI. America didn't need to get involved in either of these wars and we as a country and the world in general suffered because of it.
However, as a boy I loved listening to the stories of the men who fought our wars. There was something heroic associated with simply being "in the service" during "the war". Part of me still wants to believe in those childhood impressions.
There is one story I heard as a boy that I remember associated with Dec 7th. It wasn't about the actual fighting. It was the story of another boy, whose exact age I don't remember. He may have been as young as 14 or as old as 16.
The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Irving Driscoll had no idea where Pearl Harbor was beyond what the radio said, Hawaii. I'm not 100% sure he knew exactly where Hawaii was. He was mad. "Good and Goddamned mad" as he told me. "The slant eyed bastards suckered punched us" he said.
Mr. Driscoll, then just "little Irvy" decided he was going to do something about it. He went to join the Army. They told him the Marines did the navy's fighting and that he wasn't old enough to join anyway. Then he went to the Marines. They told him he would need to be at least 17 and have a parents signature to join. They gave him the form. He tried another recruiter claiming he was 18. No go, they weren't buying it.
He settled on a ruse of saying he was 17 and forging his mother signature on the enlistment form. Someone let him in and gave him a train ticket to boot camp. He went home and told his mother. She was heart broke. She didn't want her little boy going off to war. She didn't know what the rules about enlistment were or that her son had lied about his age to join the Marines. It probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. She knew that boys had to grow up to become men and that her son was going to be a man one day, unless he got himself killed first.
There is more to the story than that. He went off to war, and came back home when it was over. He wasn't even 21 yet when he was discharged. Back home legally he couldn't buy a drink. Back in those days Marines with purple hearts and a bronze star could get a beer in any self respecting tavern without showing an ID, which he did. Someone in a bar in his home town remembered that he wasn't near legal age and objected one night.
One of the other men gruffly stepped in and said being a Marine made him man enough for a beer. The person who objected quickly rethought his position on underage drinking and said, "I said he wasn't old enough to buy a drink, not old enough to have one, I'm paying for his beer". That seemed to settle that question.
As time went on he got himself a job as a factory worker, had a family with his wife Roberta, and became friends with my grandparents. Then one day back in the early eighties when he came up north to help install the plumbing in my grandparents retirement home upstairs bathroom, he caught me still in bed at 7am. This was totally unacceptable and he gave me an earful about how when he was my age he was in the Marines fighting the Japs not laying around in bed all day.
This story is what I remember when the nation remembers Pear Harbor.