Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Significance of Pearl Harbour to my chinese Mother

Memorial day tribute overlooking Pearl Harbour - with US and Hawaiian flags visible.

“Not every evil can be controlled by America, even less by America alone.  But some monsters need to be, if not slain, at least resisted.” - Former Secretary of State Kissinger

My mother was 9 when the Japanese invaded her village. She remembers having to hide in a tiny room which was dug a little lower to prevent being spotted. Curiosity got the better of her and she managed to peek through the cracks of the wooden door to witness what would changed her world view forever. She describes her vivid memory of how each Japanese soldiers looked, their uniform and their weapons, their grunts and how they would snatched young women and men off the streets. All to be executed, but for the women, to be raped first. She saw how soldiers drew their swords, took turns to attempt slicing an infant they tossed in the air. For the next few years she had to be dressed as a boy and hid constantly in her house and ate almost nothing but broken rice water. Emotionally she shut down during that time and even till this day she accounts it in a cold and sad manner that shows a traumatized part of her memories. At one point, she almost gave up hope. She saw the permanence of the Japanese Occupation which meant, no school, no life, and probably no existence. She was sure she would not survive the war, neither did her parents. But the day Pearl Harbour happened, the Americans became her liberators. And the rest is history. So Pearl Harbour Day is a significant day for my mother. She has a different perspective of the americans killed that day. To her, their lives were not in vain. For through their deaths, hers was one of the millions to be saved.

War is a terrible thing. But some wars are necessary. As a military wife, I understand that. My husband always say, when you face a totally deranged attacker who walks into your house and want to harm your whole family and bomb your house, what do you do? Try and sit down and persuade him not to kill your children? 

"70 years ago, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, causing the US to declare and wage total war on the governments of Japan and Germany. Less than four years later, the fascist ideology which had completely controlled not only Japan and Germany but also Italy were permanently removed from power." - Charles Sutherland.

The american way of war is this, tolerate until it is impossible to tolerate and you will be sorry, guaranteed. 

Things have changed though and the nature of war has changed too.
More on American Way of War Via
Defining the American approach to conflict and knowing its strengths and weaknesses will allow the U.S. to be more effective in future fights.  Current American popular perception of what is occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan is that American forces are conducting High Intensity Conflict (HIC), the idea of World War II style fighting where American forces win battles, declare victory, and then leave.  Not only is this inaccurate for our times, but also for many of the small wars American forces have conducted in the last 150 years.  These small wars might have had a HIC component to it, but it was short and quickly followed by counterinsurgency, stability operations, and/or nation-building.  Future fights will continue to include a mixture of conventional HIC operations, counterinsurgency fights, and stabilization efforts.

When I call my 80+ year old  mother tonight and remind  her that today is Pearl Harbour Day, I will be expecting that familiar moment of silence when I know she holds those who died to liberate those who cannot protect themselves with reverence.


Charles Sutherland said...

Well written article. When it comes to war--lest we lose our joy to hate--we have to remember: "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places." Please give my humble congratulations to your mother on having such an honorable daughter. Thank you.

J Greathouse said...

Thanks Charles. You are too kind. I pray I will never have learn evil the way she did, nor our children.