A seven-year-old girl living in Honolulu at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor retained memories “of fear and horror as a war began without warning just a few miles from our family’s home.” Later, living in Oregon, she and her family returned for visits. “Now, we take our children and grandchildren back to Hawaii to see the Arizona, still visible just beneath the surface of the water. There is little else to remind us of that Sunday morning when bombs fell from the sky and children awakened to learn that their world was no longer secure.”40
we cannot live forever in that time
life refuses to indulge our
memories yet we know and we remember
so that grandchildren will be witnesses
to our stories.
Memories for children in the European war theater were strongly laced with fear and terror. The remembered siren sounds, the air-raid shelters with crying babies and frightened adults, the overpowering dank smell of the earth surrounding them, remains for a lifetime. The conviction that such events must never again take place is also a result of these experiences. Never again a war. Yet our histories since that time show that these determinations have been disappointed many times over, as each war in turn makes way for the next one.
Reminders of earth stenched by human use survive
in nostrils depriving memory of moist soil
rich with smells of life blooming to fullness.
Forever lingers the shrill song of the sirens of death.
We learn that never is what happens despite our hope
in every moment. Yet we cannot forgive the stink of war
on earth, our good earth, earth of home. Never again,
we swear, never again, never must the raven of death
dare cover itself in false purity.
Never again must children remember
forever what dirt smells like underground
what hunger tastes like what fear feels like
never should they ever know this for the rest
of life and afterward in the dark earth.