Lesson from Pearl Harbor – Be Ready!

Posted by: Mary Marr

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of the U.S. Naval fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii December 7, 1941. Not unlike today when we are aware we live in perilous times, people are scurrying around preparing for Christmas, just as they were on that day when 2400 or more U.S. citizens perished without notice. Even though we know years later those in harm’s way had not been notified in time, some were ready, with or without notice.  

During the heat of battle as the infamous U.S.S. Arizona was sinking in the narrow harbor only one heavy cruise ship the Phoenix escaped out to sea. Why? Because the crew was ready! I know this because my uncle served on the U.S.S. Phoenix that day and told us stories of the incessant bombing, of fires everywhere, and of the young sailors who had to be tossed overboard in the hope of their surviving in the water. But he also told us how he and his crew were ready.  Despite being a peaceful Sunday, it seemed to others, they were on guard. They were prepared, and they acted decisively and swiftly to avoid disaster.


USS Phoenix departing Pearl Harbor passing USS Arizona, December 7, 1941

My uncle, served 27 years in the Navy, and went on to survive nine major battles in World War II. He was also selected as one of the first aboard the submarine the Nautilus on one of its first voyages another act of courage and extraordinary disciple at the time. His legacy of courage, heroism and readiness lives on in the hearts of his family and a grateful nation. As we now understand, surviving such trauma does not end with the battle itself. Rather, Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS) is a lifelong battle and only now 75 years later do we understand more the toll such a brave life lived for protecting others means for the family and the survivor.  

Life’s battles take their toll, like Pearl Harbor. For example,, in our family we saw the toll it took on my Grandparents and Mom who did not learn that my uncle had in fact survived Pearl Harbor for three weeks afterward as communications could be relayed to family members.  Courage was demonstrated all around in our family as with other families who suffered the long-term generational affects of WWII.

But even with his embattled heroic history what amazed me most as I reflect upon his life was how positive, fun loving, and hopeful for our nation’s future my uncle was despite those many battles. Any one of those battles could have made him cynical and fully crushed in spirit. Thankfully due the prayers of many, this was not the case.

Whether it is the losses faced on 911 or personal losses, they will not be in vain if we turn our face to Jesus for Hope in the midst of crisis and by heeding the words of

I Timothy 3:16: “Be ready to give an answer for the Hope within you.”

Will you be Aware, Ready and There - sharing the Hope of Christ when disaster calls you and your family to respond? Are you a ReadyChristian