How Concord Pearl Harbor survivor brought the infamous day back to life

Remember Pearl Harbor. That’s what they said during World War II. Our soldiers, seamen and pilots. Our domestic labor force and the civilian population. To get the blood boiling. As inspiration during the biggest and most consequential event in the history of civilization.

Later, the phrase was invoked each year as a salute to those who died at Pearl Harbor in the Japanese surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941, as well as those who survived and those who were drawn into the war. And then…

It would be an overstatement to imply that Pearl Harbor has ever been forgotten. But life goes on, doesn’t it? One war succeeds another. The greatest generation hands the baton to the baby boomers, who beget Gen X, which has given us the millennials.

Speaking of which, about 300 members of the Latest Generation — home-schooled students from around the Bay Area and middle school students from The Academy of Alameda — flooded the hangar deck of the USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum for a Thursday morning event commemorating the 76th anniversary of that infamous Sunday morning. I envied them the field trip. But I wondered who or what could possibly bring that day alive to students whose grandparents had not yet been born.

I can tell you now: 93-year-old Concord resident Earl “Chuck” Kohler, who transported the whole room back 76 years with an intense, captivating rendition of his personal experience.

First came a humble, sincere address from Jun Yamada, the consul general of the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, who characterized the bombing of Pearl Harbor as “one of the most tragic and regrettable mistakes made by Japan.” He lauded the aid of the United States in rebuilding his country and encouraging Japan to adopt democratic principles.

The first featured speaker was Anne Spanier, whose family was …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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