There is, indeed, quite a bit more to the story that Andrea Rooks wrote about in her visit to Pearl Harbor (“There’s always more to the story,” March 27). (I’m glad New Times is receptive to this genre; I did a piece on the Ronald Reagan Museum once.)
There’s another place you need to check out if you visit Honolulu/Waikiki, called the Army Museum. That’s a very nondescript title, and it hardly reveals much about what’s inside: the whole history of U.S. “occupation” of the islands, which actually started when the Hawaiian king agreed to let U.S. military put up defenses in Pearl Harbor in the 1890s.
Apparently we were worried even then that Asians might use the islands as a staging ground for an attack on the United States, and in succeeding years we barbed-wire fenced the entire island of Oahu. The Army Museum, on a piece of military real estate adjoining Waikiki Beach, is terrific on history, such as how we were virtually completely surprised by the Japanese, who were in the process of conquering most of Asia, even though one radio operator suspected an invasion of kamikazes an hour before they arrived—and his report was deemed unreliable.
One more thing: the Japanese Americans weren’t rounded up immediately in the islands and later went on to form a regiment (Nisei Warriors) that fought other Japanese and Nazis in Europe on behalf of their country of birth or emigration. For years their heroism went unrewarded—but eventually the United States gave them full honors late in life.
I didn’t serve in the armed forces, but I sure admire those who did in World War II, including my dad who was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was very lucky to survive and come back home to start a family.
-- William L. Seavey - Cambria