Pearl Harbor continues to shock, teach, 76 years later – Orange County Register

Walk with men and women such as Howard Bender, Henry Nakano, Joyce Roberts, Raymond Chavez and you come to understand how we are all Pearl Harbor survivors.

A global war does more than destroy and kill. It connects us in deep, meaningful and lasting ways. It inspires when we open grandpa’s dusty black footlocker and discover tarnished medals. It makes us think when we learn about a football game between locals and Japanese Americans in a godforsaken place called Manzanar.

But perhaps most of all, war binds us together in the blood of shared experiences. It proves that no matter where you are on this small planet, there are men and women of peace — whether they carry a rifle or hope in their hearts that a loved one is alive.

“War is the most useless thing you can do,” allows Bender, Navy man and Pearl Harbor veteran, “when there are other alternatives.”

It is four years ago and I visit Pearl Harbor survivor Jack Hammett, who was off duty and in bed with his wife in Hawaii when the attack began. Now deceased, Hammett stands in his office where he plans his talks about World War II to school children.

He sweeps a hand over an old map of the planet that is dotted with thumbtacks. The impact of what happened on Dec. 7, 1941, staggers.

The enemy sank four battleships, damaged or destroyed hundreds of planes and nearly 20 ships, wounded 1,282 Americans in uniform and took 2,402 souls.

At the same time that Bender struggled to save…

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