John Wilkens reports that two days after the attack "the wreckage of the Pacific Fleet still smoking, Fremont "Cap" Sawade sat at a desk at Hickam Field and started writing a poem. He’d never written one before. He hasn’t written one since. But over the next week, this one flowed out of him. 'The poem was just a heartfelt thing,' Sawade said. 'It was a very emotional time when I wrote it.'" We share Sawade's poem here as a testament to the pain and horror experienced by service members and their families that day, and in witness to the scars of vengeance, racism and hate the attack left in its wake. We hope you will read John Wilkens complete story about Fremont Sawade and his poem.
'The Fateful Day’ by Fremont "cap" Sawade
‘Twas the day before that fateful day,
December Sixth I think they say.
When leave trucks passed Pearl Harbor clear
The service men perched in the rear.
No thought gave they, of things to come.
For them, that day, all work was done.
In waters quiet of Pearl Harbor Bay,
The ships serene, at anchor lay.
Nor did we give the slightest thought
Of treacherous deeds by the yellow lot.
Those men whose very acts of treason,
Are done with neither rhyme nor reason.
For if we knew what was in store
We ne’re would leave that day before.
For fun and drink to forget the war
Of Britain, Europe, and Singapore.
For all of us there was no fear
This time of peace and Christmas cheer.
Forget the axiom, might is right,
Guardians of Peace, were we that night.
We passed the sailors in cabs galore,
Those men in white who came ashore.
But some will ne’re be seen again,
In care-free fun, those sailor men.
The Sabbath Day dawned bright and clear,
A brand of fire ore the lofty spear,
Of Diamond Head, Hawaii’s own.
A picture itself that can’t be shown,
Unless observed with naked eye,
That makes one look, and stop, and sigh.
What more could lowly humans ask
To start upon their daily task.
The men asleep in barracks late,
Knew no war, that morn at eight.
The planes on fields, their motors cold,
Like sheep asleep among the fold.
The ships at anchor with turbines stilled,
Their crews below in hammocks filled.
And faint, as tho it were a dream,
A sound steels on upon this scene.
A drone of many red tipped things,
The Rising Sun upon their wings.
Those who saw would not believe,
And those that heard could not conceive.
A single shocking, thundering roar,
Followed by another and many more.
To rob the sleep from weary eyes,
Or close forever those that died.
A hot machine gun’s chattering rattle,
Mowed men down like herds of cattle.
A bomb destroys an air plane hangar,
The planes within will fly no more.
Bombs explode upon a ship,
Blasting men into the deep,
To sink without the slightest thought
Of what brought on this hell they caught.
What seems like years, the horrible remains,
Blasting men and ships and planes.
And just as quick as they had come,
Away they went, their foul deeds done.
To leave the burning wreckage here,
The scorching hulks of dead ships there.
And blasted forms of dying men,
Alive in hell, to die again
.At night the skies were all but clear,
The rosy glow of a white hot bier,
Showed on clouds the havoc wrought,
And greedy flames the men still fought.
But from the ruins arose this cry,
That night from those who did not die,
“Beware Japan we’ll take eleven,
For every death of December Seven.”
And from that day there has arisen,
A cry for vengeance, in storms they’re driven.
This fateful day among the ages,
Shall stand out red in Hist’rys pages.
Those men whom homefolk held so dear,
Will be avenged, have no fear.
And if their lives they gave in vain,
Pray, I too, may not remain.
Prince of Peace, we lift up the victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor and their families. Grant them your eternal peace and earthly comfort. It seems as though we still have not learned the lesson of that horror: no good can come from war even when it seems our only option. Lead us into peace, even as you lead the other nations of the world into peace. Grant us courage in the struggle for justice and peace, and the joy of seeing a day wherein there is no more war. Amen.