The Face of Human Possibility

Eighty years now, and the infamy is still staggering.

So is what’s possible in human beings.

December 7th, 1941, Japan unleashed 353 airplanes on Pearl Harbor.

The pilots killed more than 2,500 Americans that morning. They set key pieces of our Pacific fleet aflame. Some of our boys swam through fire, desperate to live.

Today in Hawaii, people will gather at the memorial to the USS Arizona. There she lies at the bottom, still bleeding oil to the surface, drop by drop, day by day. In her hull lie the drifting remains of 900 crewmen, never recovered.

A few brief years ago, I reported on 2 women who were there. Witnesses to carnage, and something more.

The Entriken sisters were identical twins, working as nurses in the Navy. When I met them, they still bore the gravity of what they had seen. Yet they shone with twin smiles, perfect hair, teased way up tall. They carried that dignity of calm wisdom that pretties the mind.

“I heard the bombs shattering everything, shaking the ground,” one of them said. “So I ran out on the lanai just in time to see one of the planes just over my head. He was so low, the Japanese pilot looked down at me, square in the eye. He saw me. I could see his face.”

She still could.

They shared just a moment’s humanity in the inhumanity of war.

She remembered out loud the burned boys and the many days’ work to ease suffering in the hospital. She and her sister waded through the gore of Pearl Harbor.

Those decades later, in front of a TV camera, she quietly recalled that single face of her enemy, flashed down through the infamy.

Today, the United States and Japan are friends, critical allies against common threats in the Pacific. We defeated Japan at Midway, and vaporized her people with nuclear bombs to gain surrender and an end to World War II. Since then, there has been reconciliation, a grace between our people. Forgiveness of what to all the world seemed unforgivable.

We help protect the Japanese people now.

America is strong that way.

Humanity is capable that way.

It is unbelievable to this reporter how we as Americans attack one another now. Identity politics and propaganda get slung around as if we’re in civil war. Eighty years after Pearl Harbor, we live in this great country, facing down pandemic and global antics, forgetting what America has overcome.

I pray we remember who we have been in the world. Who we remain. A triumph. A pursuer of peace. A stalwart.

A young nurse eighty years ago today looked up into the face of a young boy she did not know and would never forget. May we see the face of each other now, and remember the oneness of what is possible on this planet, small thing that it is, in a universe far larger than the wickedness of the day.

One Response to “The Face of Human Possibility”

  1. Amen brother…May peace prevail in each of our hearts – beginning today!

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