Dec. 7, 1941 & The World Is My Country

I begin Pearl Harbor Day with a commentary entitled This Particular Civil War”.  Read it later, but please read it, and think about its implications for all of us.

Nov. 8, 2020 S. St. Paul MN.  My daughter did a project to remember veterans on Veterans Day.  Her great-uncle Frank’s poster was among these (below).

This Dec. 7, I ask readers to watch a movie, and think about how it applies to all of us, in the present day.

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This Dec. 7, the documentary film, The World Is My Country, the amazing story of WWII veteran and peace activist Garry Davis, is my focus.  Davis’s death merited a long front page obituary in the New York Times July 28, 2013.

Garry Davis was born in 1921; Pearl Harbor brought his older brother and himself into the military; his brother was killed in 1943 when his Destroyer was hit off Italy.  Garry’s dilemma of conscience began when he bombed a German city, killing German civilians not unlike the Germans he daily worked with in the theater in New York City.

Davis was in his 20s when he made a difference to change the conversation, and he engagingly tells his story himself, as an old man.

The film is being offered free on-line for a week through December 16, and I encourage you taking the hour to view it.

“THE WORLD IS MY COUNTRY”
Film (2017) | Running time: 58 min

This film has recently been placed on the recommended list for scheduling by America’s public television stations.  Disclaimer: I’ve been supporting the production of this film since I learned of the project in 2011. I found it to be an excellent vehicle for catching young peoples interest and promoting discussion.  Do watch it.  I think you’ll reach the same conclusion.

(Yes, I’m sure you’ll be asked to contribute.  I’d encourage that too.  If you’re interested in participating in an on-line conversation with the movie producer the evening of Thursday, December 17, make your request to me dick.bernard@icloud.com.)

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A FAMILY STORY THIS DAY. Since 1981 – I recall how it happened – I’ve  annually remembered the death of my Uncle, my dad’s brother, Frank Peter Bernard of Grafton ND, on the USS Arizona, Dec. 7, 1941.  Enter “USS Arizona”  in the search box of this blog and you’ll find many links, likely all relating to my Uncle Frank.  Today’s post is a variation on the others.

Largely war stories have always concentrated on young males, sent to fight, and often die, for their country.  Uncle Frank was 26, probably old among the victims that Sunday in Honolulu.  War and Peace is not a simple conversation.  I have a grandson in the Marines; I know antiwar people including a good friend who went to prison for his beliefs.  I’ve served myself, and come from a family for whom service was expected and a duty.  But there is a place for all in this conversation.

As noted, there are many military veterans in my family and circles, including myself.  There are many stories, told and untold.  For a single example: across the street is friend Don, 91, who did his two years in Germany after WWII (the reconstruction years).  His memories often go back to those years.  Some years ago he gave me a CD, which I’ve again listened to in its entirety: Danny Boy: John McDermott.  The link (clink to enlarge) has the play list of this marvelous CD; several cuts of which directly relate to war and its consequences.  Most likely you can easily find all of the songs on YouTube.

Today’s Family Story

Frank Bernard was my dad’s younger brother, born 24 July 1915.  He joined the Navy Sep, 1935; assigned to the USS Arizona Jan 1936, died aboard the Arizona Dec. 7, 1941.  He served his career on the Arizona.

Frank Bernard, Honolulu pre-Dec. 7, 1941

In 1942, Mom’s brother, George W. Busch, (born 11 Jan 1916), completed Naval Officer training; and thence spent three years as an officer on the USS Woodworth (DD 460) in the Pacific Theatre.  His Destroyer survived the war.  They landed at Tokyo Sep 10, 1945, and he arrived home through Portland OR in late October 1945.  He began his career as a public school science teacher.

Naval officer George Busch with family and new spouse Jean Busch with Busch family, May 1944.  He was on leave and married his college sweetheart.  From left, back row, siblings Edithe, Art, Vincent and George.  Standing front: Sibling Esther, mother Rose, wife Jean, dad Ferd.  Kids in front row, Mary Ann and Richard.

Personally, I was one year old when Pearl Harbor happened.

In May and June, 1941, I traveled by car from North Dakota with my parents and grandparents Bernard, destination Long Beach, California. This included an apparently unanticipated visit with Frank Bernard, while the Arizona was berthed at nearby San Pedro.  My Aunt Josie lived in Los Angeles, and since 1937, Grandma and Grandpa usually spent part of the year in Long Beach.  Many others did the same.

What follows is part of a 1941 Shell Oil road map of the U.S.  The actual trip is described in two earlier posts, linked below, in which my parents describe the general routes we followed to and from.

Here’s a pdf of the same map: 1941 road map west U.S.

Here and Here are two previous posts about the 1941 road trip to and from California from North Dakota.  They didn’t take the trip to be remembered by history, but certainly they did contribute to our knowledge of this time.

Enjoy.

Late June 1941, Long Beach CA, from left: Henry and Josephine Bernard, Josie Whitaker, Frank Bernard, Richard, Henry and Esther Bernard.  Grandma Josephine wrote on the back of this photo: “Taken June 22, 1941 at Long Beach.  The first time we had our family together for seven years and also the last.  This is where we lived.”

 

1 reply
  1. norman hanson
    norman hanson says:

    Nice story and reflections, Dick. My two brothers and I each served in the armed forces of the United States, two of us in the USAF and our kid brother, In the US Coast Guard. One of my brothers made a career out of the USAF and retired as a full-bird. My oldest brother served as a helicopter pilot in Viet Name while I served as an intelligence officer with the B-52’s in Thailand. Kind brother served on a buoy tender in Duluth and later in Boston with the CG. My kid brother and I were both reserve officers who served on active duty for a few years. I have a cousin who served as an Army officer via ROTC just as my oldest brother and I did albeit via the AFROTC and was wounded in Cambodia when the US troops were not there according to Nixon. I had several great uncles on my father’s side who served in WWI, one of whom was gassed in France or Belgium. Several of my dad’s cousins served in the US Navy as did one of my uncles on my mother’s side. My mother’s kid brother served in the Merchant Marine during WWII riding on oil tankers hauling fuel from the Aruba area to the south Pacific. My dad did not serve in the armed forces due to his age at the start of WWII and his bad knee. On the other hand, he served on the local draft board at that time instead. Nothing unique about our family or Dick’s for that matter, I suppose, other than they both experienced similar things including feelings and concerns when their family members were in harm’s way.

    Reply

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