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Monday, July 16, 2007

War Cannot Stop LOVE!

The sun is rising, and although everywhere around the world there is war, there is a disturbing peace that surrounds Pearl Harbor. Soon, the sirens ring and chaos breaks loose. And soon, two lovers are almost separated, can love bind them together?

Bill Innanen, the superintendent and engineer for Pacific Naval Airbase Construction, and his wife Mary Margaret Innanen, arrived in Pearl Harbor three months before the attack. Bill, 26 born in Detroit but raised in Canada, was well traveled, but Marg had scarcely ventured outside of her home town of Sioux Rapids, Iowa. They had been married for one year.

On morning of December 7th, Bill stepped outside the door of their rented house in Nuuanu Valley and scanned the weather. "Marg! Come out here and look at this." Marg slid the duck she was preparing into the oven, and wiping her hands on her apron, walked out through the open door to stand beside her husband. Antiaircraft guns were bursting up the hills, targeting a lone bomber. While navy carrier planes loved to buzz the Army bases, just to keep the soldiers on their toes, this was some kind of crazy exercise. Bill said to his wife: "They're going to hit this fellow if they don't watch out."

As the drone of the plane faded over their heads, the radio announcer's voice broke in loud and clear: "Hawaii has been sporadically attacked. Do not leave your homes. Keep off the streets. Everything is under control." Bill and Mary Margaret gaped at the radio. Who was attacking? The Germans? The Japanese? Bill thought it must be the Japanese. Just then, the scream of large artillery fire echoed up the valley and a 5-inch shell from a navy gun at the Honolulu docks smashed through a house in nearby Dowsett Highlands. Something was terribly wrong. The radio began to play church hymns. Five minutes, ten minutes passed. Then, the announcer broke in again. "All Pearl Harbor personnel report to your emergency stations."

The Japanese had just strafed the highway and cars were ditched on either side, smoking. Although Bill worked for a civilian firm, his wartime duties -- building airstrips -- were basically the same as the navy's Seabees: He had an emergency station and he needed to get there fast. As the Japanese fired from above, he high-tailed it down the center of the highway and managed to reach the gates of the Pearl Harbor. But he harbor itself was in flames. Ford Island, the naval air station, was burning. Japanese bombers rushed the docks, dropping their torpedoes into the shallow water. Over by the Officer's Club, the ancient mine-layer U.S.S. Oglallala wallowed at her mooring, keel up. Just as Bill reached the club's lawn, a bomber dropped another torpedo onto the the turtled ship. The Oglallala's exposed hull acted like a ramp and sent the torpedo sliding onto the grass, its propeller still spinning. Bill dashed behind a crane and braced himself for the explosion, but it what he got wasn't what he had expected. He felt, and then heard the terrific triple blasts of the magazines aboard the the battleship Arizona blowing: Whoomph! Whoomph! Whoomph!

Bill was released from his duty -- putting out fires -- 19 hours later, but in his exhaustion and excitement, he couldn't remember where he'd parked the car. He jogged up the highway looking for a ride, spooked right and left by the gleaming hunks of abandoned automobiles, Bill jogged up the highway. Anti-aircraft guns popped above and below. Overhead, a wave of planes passed, flying low. They were American but Bill didn't know that, and he flung himself into the ditch. "Why the hell did I come to this place," he thought to himself. "No one forced me to come. I have made a crucial mistake here, somehow or other."

Bill reached his home at about 4 A.M. He pulled out his keys and fumbling, opened the the door. There stood his Marg, wild-eyed, grim, baring her butcher knife and a cast-iron frying pan. No enemy Japanese was going to get past her.

"Where's the duck?" was all he could think of to say.

"Burnt to a crisp," she replied cooly.

"Let's try to salvage some of it," Bill said soothingly. So Mary Margaret made some biscuits and Bill set the blackout flashlight in an strategic spot, and they carved the burnt duck in their darkened home above the harbor.

When she was about to ask her friend what's going on, she saw the guy standing in front of her. He used sign language telling her "I've spent a year's time to learn sign language. Just to let you know that I've not forgotten our promise. Let me have the chance to be your voice. I Love You. With that, he slipped the ring back into her finger. The girl finally smiled.

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