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Remembering Pearl Harbor 79 years later

This past Monday, Dec. 7, America observed the 79th anniversary of Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt called it “a day of infamy” that will live in the memory of every American alive at that time.

Nancy Acosta (now deceased) and I were both 7 years old at that time. She was living miles away in Pearl Harbor with her family as her dad was in the Navy and stationed there. On that Sunday morning, Nancy was getting ready to attend church with her family, wearing a white dress her mother had made. Her family survived the attack and so did her pretty white dress covered with oil stains. A grim reminder of that awful day that a little girl was protected by God.

Nancy served in the Army and met her husband, Leroy Acosta, (now deceased) who was in the Navy. They settled in LaPlace and raised two girls – Kelly Turner (Daryl) and Rebecca Simoneaux (Scott).

I was sitting with my dad at a football game that historic day. Reserve was playing St. James for the River Parish championship. I remember that day like it was yesterday. We were sitting on the top row in the south end of the stadium.

At halftime, Inez Madere Millet (now deceased), in her band uniform, shouted to the crowd, “The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor!” In a split second, my dad’s face changed to one of shock and a spirit of fear came over him. I don’t remember much of the game after halftime, but later found out that Reserve won.

The next month, on Jan. 15, 1942, five members of that team joined the U.S. Marines. They were Billy Sutton, Marion Robert, Shirley Maus, Gerard Loupe and Clarence “Nick” Duhe. Marion Robert was killed Nov. 20, 1943 in Tarawa. One of the players who enlisted with him was by his side as he died. He was one of 31 young men from St. John Parish who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom.

During the war, my dad would listen to the news every night on the radio. He was concerned about our country and, especially, because of the fact that he had four brothers serving in the military. Aristide “Eaky,” one of his brothers, was killed in France in 1944.

I remember food rationing, especially, sugar and butter, and, also, the newspaper and scrap iron drives. I remember being at the Reserve Community Club swimming pool when the U.S. dropped the A-bomb.

As the war ended, America had shown the rest of the world that, together, we had won the war.

It’s been a long time since that Sunday morning in December when we were attacked. We were a proud people who defeated Germany and Japan.

Tom Brokaw wrote a book titled, “The Greatest Generation.” I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, but many agree, as I do, that we will never recapture the spirit America once had.

 

           If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call 985-652-8477, or e-mail hkeller@comcast.net.