Tag Archives: Pearl Harbor

Yes, words do matter

Let me crystal clear: Donald Trump’s repeated use of Hitleresque rhetoric in describing the state of play in this great country should worry every single American.

Who might it worry the most? That would be direct descendants of those who went to war in 1941 to fight Hitler’s evil Reich, along with the fascists led by the bumbling Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo, the warmongering prime minister of Japan.

Trump is invoking terms like “vermin” and saying immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our nation.” The “poison,” of course, comes from those who are black, or brown.

This man is evil in the first degree. He must be stopped. He cannot possibly ever step anywhere near the White House again.

I happen to be one of those direct descendants of WWII veterans. My late father enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 7, 1941 … the very day of the “dastardly act” committed by Japan’s naval and air forces against our military base in Hawaii. Dad saw his combat duty in The Med and dodged bombs and bullets fired at him by forces loyal to Hitler and Mussolini.

Thus, I take this “vermin” and “poison” rhetoric so very personally.

Trump is a racist madman. He is out of control. He is the embodiment of evil.

Pearl Harbor changed the world

Eighty years ago, the world changed forever. It changed because squadrons of Japanese fighter planes swooped in over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and sank several U.S. warships.

The act brought the United States into World War II.

It also changed the life of my favorite veteran. Forever.

My dad, Pete Kanelis, was a 20-year-old student at the University of Portland (Ore.). The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. My grandparents, Dad and his six siblings were listening to news reports that were broadcast over the radio in their Portland home. Dad left the house, went downtown and on that day enlisted in the Navy. He wanted to get immediately into the fight.

He got there eventually in early 1942.

Dad was one of 16 million Americans who suited up to defend the world against tyranny. Fewer than 500,000 of them are alive today. Dad has been gone for 41 years. I honor his service every day that think of them. And I do think about him every single day. I will do so for as long as I take breath.

The world changed that day. The United States would emerge from World War II as the planet’s pre-eminent military and economic power. The Greatest Generation built the nation after it came home from the battlefields around the world. Dad was one of them.

He went back to school. He married my mother in the summer of 1946. I came along three years later; my two sisters arrived after I did. Mom and Dad both worked to build good lives for us all.

They were among the generation who defeated the tyrants.

The world changed forever 80 years ago. Count me as one American who relishes my good fortune to be born in what I believe is the world’s greatest nation built by its greatest generation.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.


What would Dad think?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You have seen this picture already, but I want to share it again to make a point about what is happening in our deeply divided nation.

The fellow on the left is a British Marine. The sailor is my father. They were standing guard aboard ship in the Mediterranean during World War II.

They joined their nations’ respective militaries to fight tyranny, to defeat the Nazis. I cannot speak for the Marine, but I damn sure can speak for Dad … who I am as certain as I am sitting here today that he would be appalled at the state of affairs in the country he loved dearly.

What would Dad think of the sight of rioters, some of whom were wearing Nazi paraphernalia while storming the Capitol Building in Washington? What would he say to someone who sought to justify such a thing? How might he respond to the sound of a president lie incessantly about an election outcome and, thus, fuel the rage that erupted on Capitol Hill this past week?

Dad wasn’t a particularly political man. He and I didn’t talk much about public policy or the effects of policy on our family. He didn’t identify with either major political party.

However, he was a patriot through and through. He got into fight of his life on the very day that Japan attacked our fleet in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. He loved our country and all for which it stood.

I must believe that he would be horrified to see a president desecrate our government in the manner that we have witnessed during the past four years … which he did in spades just the other day when he exhorted the mob to “take back” our government from mysterious, nefarious forces.

What would Dad think? He would be full of rage.

He joined the fight immediately

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to commemorate today by remembering the impact an event that occurred 79 years ago had on my family.

You know already that my father, Peter John Kanelis, is my favorite veteran. Some of you might even recall that I have written on this blog about how Dad answered the call to fight for his country on Dec. 7, 1941. I will recap here briefly.

Dad was the oldest of seven siblings living in Portland, Ore., when the Japanese attacked our naval forces in Hawaii. Two of his siblings are still living. One of them is Dad’s youngest brother, who a year ago told me of how Dad — who was listening on the radio to the horrible events of that day — left the house and went downtown to enlist in the Navy. He joined the fight that very day.

He wouldn’t suit up for a few more weeks. In early February, Dad ventured to San Diego, Calif., for his basic training. He ended up in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations where he fought the Nazis and the Italians who joined their Japanese allies in declaring war on the United States.

I want to mention this once again because Dad’s bravery and — in the words of President Roosevelt — his “righteous anger” symbolized a nation that would fight the tyrants to the bitter end.

Dad became one of 16 million Americans to join that fight. They became what we now refer to as “The Greatest Generation.” They’re all very old now. Fewer than 500,000 of them remain among us.

They were called to arms because an enemy state miscalculated the resolve of what had been referred to in real time as a “sleeping giant.”

I am proud to be the son of one of those gallant Americans who envisioned immediately his need to take up arms against tyranny and fight for the nation he loved.

That love of country is part of Dad’s enduring legacy.

I salute my favorite veteran

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My favorite veteran would be 99 years of age had he been given more time on this good Earth.

He died 40 years ago. Peter John Kanelis was just 59 years of age when he perished in a freak boating accident up yonder in British Columbia.

I have saluted him already on this blog as we commemorate Veterans Day. I’ll do so again simply by thanking him for imbuing in me a sense of duty to my country. He exhibited the meaning of answering the call to duty on arguably one of the darkest days in U.S. history.

Japanese warplanes attacked our fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Dad, who was just 20 years of age then, was listening to the radio reports of what had occurred. He got up from his chair and left my grandparents’ house in Portland, Ore. Dad ventured downtown to the armed forces recruiting station. The Marine Corps office was closed that Sunday, so he walked across the hall to enlist in the Navy.

Roughly two months later, Dad reported for duty and went to war, joining 16 million Americans to fight tyranny around the world.

Dad taught me implicitly years later about duty and honor and love of country. He didn’t generally volunteer much of about what he endured in the Mediterranean Theater of operations; I would ask him and he would talk about it. He was proud of the service he delivered to his country.

I am proud of him to this day.¬†I also am proud of all the members of the Greatest Generation who triumphed over tyranny as well as all who served — and are serving in defense of this great nation.

If you see someone you recognize as a veteran, thank him or her. I do so regularly … in honor of my favorite veteran.

Pearl Harbor and 9/11 rolled into one tragedy

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has issued fair warning.

Americans, Dr. Adams said, are going to endure our “Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment” as we continue to wage war against coronavirus pandemic.

I have no doubt that we are up to the challenge. We’ve been through hell already in our lives. I am 70 years of age and I’ve had a ringside seat to plenty of national crises.

The Vietnam War; constitutional crises; presidential impeachments; assassinations; fiscal calamity. They all have inflicted deep wounds on our national psyche, not to mention — in the case of the Vietnam War and other conflicts around the world — wounds on many thousands of Americans’ physical well-being.

We have somehow endured and emerged from those crises strong. Some have suggested we are stronger than ever. To that extent, I endorse part of the message that Donald Trump seeks to deliver, which is that we’ll emerge from this health crisis a stronger nation. I just do not want him to take credit for it ‚Ķ although I am certain he will seek to do so.

Our Pearl Harbor moment nearly 80 years ago thrust us into a world war. Millions of young Americans signed up immediately to get into the fight. My father, I learned just this past fall, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on the very day Japan attacked our fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Then came 9/11, an event that spurred a new generation of American heroes to join the war against international terrorism.

Yes, we emerged from that Pearl Harbor moment a mighty nation. It remains to be seen how we will rebuild ourselves after the terror attack on 9/11, although the signs look promising to me.

My hope now for the nation is that we exhibit patience and perseverance. Yes, we’re all learning to live in a world that requires us to observe new norms of behavior. Given the alternative to learning these new norms, I am willing to stay the course for as long as it takes.

We mustn’t rush back to what we think is normal. The killer virus does not respect the economic pain we’re enduring. It is singularly deadly. No amount of bluster is going to wish it away.

We got through Pearl Harbor and 9/11. We’ll get through this crisis.

USS Doris Miller: What a marvelous honor for a Pearl Harbor hero

Doris Miller was in the right place at the wrong time, I suppose one could say.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was working in the laundry room on the USS West Virginia, a battleship that was moored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Then all hell broke loose.

Japanese warplanes swooped in over the harbor and hit the West Virginia, along with many other ships and planes. Miller jumped into action. He tended to his mortally wounded ship captain, helped other wounded sailors. Then he strapped himself into a deck gun — a weapon on which he was not qualified — and began firing at enemy aircraft.

He survived that terrifying event. He received a medal from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Miller would die in action in 1943.

But here we are today. The U.S. Navy has announced that it will name a future Gerald R. Ford class nuclear aircraft carrier in honor of Doris Miller.

Yes, the USS Doris Miller will carry the name of the first African-American so honored. It will carry honor a young man who was thrust into a hero’s role in a time of immense national peril and tragedy.

Doris Miller was a native of Waco. I am pleased to see the picture above of Miller receiving a medal from another native Texan: Nimitz hailed from Fredericksburg. Miller was awarded the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart and received a commendation from the Navy secretary at the time for the actions he took on that “date which will live in infamy.”¬†

The Navy Department chose to make the announcement today to coincide with the nation’s celebration of Martin Luther King Day, a holiday set aside to honor the memory and the work of our great nation’s greatest civil rights champion.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said in a statement.

May they “continue the watch” with the pride and courage exhibited by the young man under whose name they will set sail.

We’re remembering ‘a date which will live … in infamy’

This is not a celebratory date. I hesitate even to call it an “anniversary.” It’s a date of solemn remembrance and honor.

We remember the event, the attack on our Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese fighter planes and bombers that roared in over the harbor that day 78 years ago brought this country into the world’s bloodiest and costliest war.

We also honor the heroes who fought back that Sunday morning. They were awakened by the sounds of ships and planes exploding under the force of the ordnance dropped by those aircraft.

We remember the USS Arizona, the World War I-era battleship that is memorialized to this day in the harbor, at the place where it blew apart and sank. There reportedly are just three survivors of the attack on the Arizona. One of them is a gentleman named Lou Conter.

Conter is now 98 years of age. His time on Earth is running out, just as it has already for all but fewer than 500,000 of the more than 16 million men and women who fought for this country and saved the world from the tyrants who wanted to conquer us all.

I want to insert a point of personal pride here. One of those brave Americans was my father, Pete Kanelis, who 78 years ago today — as he and his parents and siblings were listening to the news about the attack on the radio — ventured to downtown Portland, Ore., to enlist in the Navy.

Lou Conter will receive honors and high praise from those who have gathered at Pearl Harbor. He couldn’t participate a year ago and this year he is the only one of the three Arizona survivors who is able to take part.

Let us never forget the sacrifice of these heroic Americans. Indeed, we should honor them every single day and thank them — either privately or out loud — for all they did to save us from the evils of oppression.

My favorite veteran’s story has gotten more glorious

VANCOUVER, Wash. — This is a picture of my favorite veteran. He’s my Dad, who died 39 years ago today in a most unexpected and tragic manner.

That is not why I am posting this item about Pete Kanelis. It involves my belief that Dad was my favorite military veteran. I heard something this week from his sole surviving brother that I did not know, but which solidifies my opinion about Dad’s service to the country in a time of great peril.

My wife and I were visiting Uncle Tino and Aunt Claudia the other day. We were reminiscing about family. Then my uncle offered this bit of information that I never knew; if I knew, perhaps I forgot. It’s chilling and heroic at the same time.

Uncle Tino was 9 years of age when the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He told us about how he and the rest of his family were listening to the radio at their home in Portland. They were transfixed by what the news reports were telling the world about what had just happened, which is that the Japanese Empire had just committed a supreme act of war on the United States.

President Roosevelt would stand before Congress the next day to ask for a declaration of war in retaliation for the “dastardly act.”¬†Dad didn’t wait for the president to make his request, according to Uncle Tino.

“Your Dad got up out of his chair and left the room,” Tino told us. He said Dad — who was 20 years of age — went downtown on that Sunday afternoon to enlist in the military. That very day! He was so enraged at what he had heard that he wanted to get into the fight immediately.

Dad did tell me once that his intention was to enlist in the Marine Corps, but that the Marines’ office was closed. So, he walked across the hall and enlisted in the Navy.

I don’t recall Dad telling me that he did all that on the very day of the Pearl Harbor attack. I do recall him saying that he actually reported for duty in January or February 1942. I guess I never pieced together over those many decades that Dad well could have been motivated in the moment to join the fight, but that it took a few weeks for the paperwork to get processed.

Tino told us he remembers the day “vividly.” I believe him. Dad was a red-blooded American patriot. It rings so very true to me that he would act so impulsively.

Dad got into the fight in a big way. He saw combat in the Mediterranean Theater battling the Germans and Italians. He and millions of other young Americans fought hard and saved the world from the tyrants who sought to conquer it.

I am grateful to hear this recollection, as it affirms my view of my favorite veteran.

Conspiracy theories live forever and ever

They will never die. Not ever. They will live far beyond all of our time on Earth. They’ll outlive my sons’ time, too.

What are “they”? Conspiracy theories! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Jeffrey Epstein’s death in the Manhattan, New York City jail cell has spawned ’em by the dozens. Already! You see, Epstein was supposed to stand trial after he pleaded not guilty to charges that he peddled young girls for sex.

Epstein had some high-powered friends. Two of them became “former friends” for reasons that aren’t exactly clear. Their names are Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.¬†

Now that Epstein is dead, the conspiracists have developed some hideous notions that Clinton might have been involved in killing him. Others have suggested Trump played a role in murdering Epstein.

These theories are going to take root. Their roots will run deep.

We’ve had our share of eternal conspiracy theories.

  • President Kennedy’s murder in Dallas couldn’t possibly have been committed by a lone rifleman.
  • ¬†The 9/11 terrorist attacks were the work of those within the George W. Bush administration looking for reasons to go to war.
  • ¬†President Barack Obama was born in Africa and was not qualified to run for the office to which he was elected twice.
  • ¬†Those pictures from the moon’s surface were shot in a studio somewhere on Earth.
  • ¬†Good grief, there are those who have suggested that President Roosevelt goaded the Japanese into attacking us at Pearl Harbor.

And so they have gone. They’ll go on forever.

Indeed, conspiracy theories already exist involving former President Clinton. They involve bogus allegations of people with dirt on the president and his wife ending up dead. Indeed, those phony rumors are thought to be the source of the latest defamatory rumors surrounding the death of the miserable pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Are there questions that need answering? Surely, yes.

However, I believe I can predict today that no matter how thorough the explanation, or how much evidence they produce to back whatever conclusions they draw about Epstein’s death, there will be those who will purport to disbelieve what they see and hear.

They will trade on conspiracy theories. What’s worse is that there will be those who are willing to take the bait.