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A day that will live in infamy

December 7 is the anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. I pause to remember those persons, both victims and survivors, who went through that horrific day, many heroically.

I call special attention to one survivor, Dr. Rodney T. West, who treated the wounded at Pearl Harbor, and eventually ended up at the Kapi’olani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu the day Barack Obama was born. I remind readers of my article about West and his military service: “Honolulu remembered.”

Sailors assigned to ships based at Pearl Harbor bring the flag to half-mast over the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island

Honolulu remembered

Dr. West

If history had gone just a little differently, perhaps this story would be much more “on topic” for this blog. As it is, Dr. Rodney T. West, who is said to have delivered 5,000 babies in Honolulu, is best known here as the “doctor who noted Obama” rather than the doctor who delivered the President into the world, that distinction belonging to Dr. David A Sinclair.

Dr. West also noted some other things, specifically how civilians in Honolulu, largely on their own initiative, organized to meet a possible emergency during World War II, and how on December 7, 1941 they were prepared to respond to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I just finished reading Dr. West’s book, Honolulu Prepares for Japan’s Attack. It does read a little like the minutes of the last meeting of some community organization, but I nevertheless found it interesting as a model for community disaster response and individual leadership. It also helped me get another glimpse of my father’s generation.