December 7, 1941 was the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base at Oahu Island, Hawaii. Because of this action, the United States entered World War II. December 7th was designated as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day by the United States Congress in 1944, and today marks the anniversary of that day in the history of the United States. Every year, including this 76th anniversary of that “date which will live in infamy,” Pearl Harbor survivors, visitors, family and friends visit the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument to pause and remember those who died on that day.
There are few wars that don’t affect someone we know. Henry, my husband’s uncle by marriage, fought in the Pacific in World War II, and died when his ship was sunk. He had lived in the Philippines (originally from Colorado), and his wife (Joe’s aunt) had died in a car accident a year or so before the war started. Following Henry’s death, Joe’s grandmother went to the Philippines to bring home Henry’s (and her daughter’s) twin children, then barely aged 2. While she was there, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. Joe’s grandmother and the twins were sent to the Santo Tomas internment camp, where they spent the rest of the war until they were liberated in February, 1945.
As I was driving to work this morning, I thought about the meaning of “a date that will live in infamy.” Infamy means being known for something horrible. We, as parents whose children have died, have our own date that will live in infamy. My personal date that will live in infamy is March 3, 2002, the day Jason died.
Similar to survivors of war, we parents have endured a specific horrendous event on our personal date that will live in infamy, one that affects us and changes our lives in so many ways, more than we ever could have imaged. We are changed so much we, along with our family and friends, don’t even know who we are any more. Some of us end up with PTSD. Some lose friends because of a lack of understanding about the struggle we are having or the path we now are walking. Some have marriages that end. For some, it’s a lifelong struggle. Some never recover. It takes years to recover any semblance of normalcy (if there even is such a thing) and rebuild lives.
We are all changed by our personal date that will live in infamy, the day our children died.
© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney