Via the American Legion's blog TheBurnPit - we have a nice summary of the intellectual capital that made up the $140,000 paid by the National Endowment for the Humanities in part for the East-West Center of University of Hawaii's conference; History and Commemoration: Legacies of the Pacific War.
Some of the jewels;
Several years ago, I was recruited to a teaching position at West O‘ahu College, and, largely out of a sense that no opportunity should go uninvestigated, my wife and I toured the campus with the humanities chair. The thing that struck us first was that I would forever be looking down at the fleet of U.S. warships, the symbol of American power and the symbol of our dispossession, as long as I worked there. I decided they could not pay me enough. But in a sense, Pearl Harbor is that visual and kinetic reminder not only of our loss—and by “our” I mean Kanaka Maoli—but of our helplessness as well. It is not that the ships and armed soldiers themselves are menacing so much as it is the sense that they belong to that place now and we do not. (Page 5)Now I remember why I decided a PhD in History was not in my future.
Thus I can understand how cultural meanings are transferred between generations—imperfectly. Whatever it was that drew my parents to solidarity with American soldiers and sailors simply did not cross the boundaries of our generations’ whole. Thus, I need to remember that my attitudes about the meaning of their presence here will not cross into my children’s lives as thoroughly as I might wish. (Page 14)
It should be noted that sexual assaults against local women by U.S. military personnel are not random and isolated incidents. Rather, they are direct outcomes of the political, economic, military, and sexual complex that has long enabled and sustained U.S. hegemony within the Pacific and Asia region. In this complex, the dominant culture of U.S. militarized masculinity requires and underwrites a desire to dominate, possess, and destroy the “feminine”—in other words, precisely those elements that are subordinated and repudiated in constituting soldierly subjects. Given the United States’ political and economic dominance in the region, military personnel stationed there perceive the local population as a subordinated people; local women, signifying both the subordinated and the repudiated in the ideology of U.S. military masculinity, become the logical targets toward which soldiers invest their desires for destruction and domination. This militarized male sexuality, moreover, is assumed to be uncontrollable and not be excessively punished. Immediately after the 1995 rape incident, Admiral John Macke was forced to resign for a controversial public statement in which he remarked, “For the money [the perpetrators] rented the van, they could have had a girl.”
A 30-minute trip to the Arizona Memorial, however, provides these Japanese visitors with an entirely different feeling. The contrast between Japanese-dominated Waikiki and the American-dominated national memorial in Pearl Harbor is so striking that Japanese visitors frequently note in the visitor survey questionnaire they are surprised and feel rather unsettled to find ‘so few Japanese here, unlike Waikiki’. At the same time, this lack of a Japanese presence and the American-ness of the site satisfy their expectations as tourists in America. Here is a site that is definitely not ‘pretty much the same as Japan’, a place where the Japanese are made to feel ‘other’. This feeling of marginality, which is in sharp contrast with their experience in Waikiki, further enhances their international perspective on the site and enables them to script and rescript their experience within a nation-based framework. This scripting, while offering possibilities for de-Americanizing the significance of this American monument, simultaneously submerges other possible perspectives on the site. Most visitors are unable to see the memorial and the past it represents in ways that are not bound by national frameworks. The historically contested sense of the place as a part of a formerly independent kingdom, which did not belong to either of the two nations that serve as the constitutive elements of the memorial today, simply remains unrecognized. Many Japanese visitors, in that respect, forget as much as they remember through this intense lesson in history.
Both the memorial and the cemetery are tacitly gendered spaces, where inscriptions of masculinity and femininity are hidden in plain sight/site. Tracking “the often silent and hidden operations of gender”3 at Punchbowl leads into an implicitly masculine space, one that is planned, controlled, disciplined, orderly. The memorial tells a monoglossic, regulated story of external danger and national victory….
Alongside the pomp of militarized memories in the memorial is the circumstance of undifferentiated, singular representations of dead men in the cemetery. Again, there is no disorder: no children, no animals, no stray saplings, no unapproved flowers.4 There is a great deal of open, quiet space in the cemetery, but there is nothing peaceful about it. “Civilian” cemeteries in Honolulu and elsewhere often reveal a certain acceptance of jumble, of differences in the size, scale, inscription, and tilt of headstones, the placement of trees, the arrangement of flowers. Community cemeteries often present many invitations to enter; they allow memory to grow. Punchbowl manufactures a predigested set of memories; like the dead men beneath the ground, the visitors are all expected to march to the same drummer.
That is why you should think real carefully where your children go to college - and ask who their professors are.
More importantly, it is why over dinner tonight - at a minimum - you should take some time to talk about the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.