It’s hard to know exactly how to acknowledge Pearl Harbor Day. I think I’m like many young Americans who suddenly realized how much pain and heartache these days represent, only after 9/11 awakened us to the real suffering hiding behind the cold numbers on the calendar.
As you think about the day, Anna Quinn does a great job thinking about “The Greatest Generation,” in this piece about a disabled woman she used to know – a woman who epitomized the traits of that era even though she couldn’t walk:
Once I had a dear friend whose birthday fell, unfortunately, on December 7. Every year her favorite cousin would call to congratulate her with the words “Happy . . . Pearl Harbor Day!”
She loved to tell me about his teasing, but in truth, I could not comprehend the darkness of December 7, 1941, her twentieth birthday. As with most other difficulties in her life, she handled her birthday with grace and wry humor.
Her difficulties prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor were not inconsiderable. She survived the 1932 super tornado that devastated her small town of Northport, Alabama, riding the storm out in a bed with her brother. And then she contracted polio, which left her in leg braces.
A handicapped girl in small town Alabama in the forties could have easily chosen to live quietly at home. Instead she earned a B.S. from the University of Alabama, a Master’s from UNC, and eventually a Ph.D. in Library Sciences from Columbia. She worked at many universities, finishing her career as a librarian at Georgia Tech.